Hopes of finding Beirut blast survivors dwindle as rescuers search for day three

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Rescuers who dug the rubble of a building in Beirut for the third day on Saturday said there was no longer any hope of finding anyone alive more than a month after a massive explosion in port destroyed the Lebanese capital.About 50 rescuers and volunteers, including a specialist team from Chile, had worked for three days to locate anyone after sensors detected signs of breathing and heat on Thursday.

“Technically speaking, there is no sign of life,” Francisco Lermanta, head of the Topos Chile volunteer relief group, told a press conference on Saturday evening, adding that rescuers had combed through 95 % of the building.

Signs of life detected over the past two days, Lermanta said, were breaths from fellow rescuers already inside the building picked up by their sensitive equipment. He said efforts would now focus on clearing the rubble and looking for remains.

“We never stop with even a percent of hope,” Lermanta said of the search for a body. “We never stop until the job is done. ”

WATCH | Beirut marks 1 month since the explosion:

Lebanese citizens have marked 30 days since the explosion of the port with a moment of silence for the victims. At the same time, Chilean rescue workers are digging debris after their team found signs of a survivor. Description: Lebanese citizens have marked 30 days since the explosion of the port with a moment of silence for the victims. At the same time, Chilean rescuers are digging debris after their team found signs of a survivor. 2:09

The August 4 explosion killed around 190 people, injured 6,000 more and devastated entire neighborhoods. Authorities held ceremonies on Friday to mark a month since the blast devastated a city already rocked by a crippling economic crisis.

The rescue efforts dominated local and social media, as the Lebanese were transfixed, desperate for a miracle. But none came.

The crumbling building where research was continuing is between the residential quarters of Gemmayze and Mar Mikhael, among the areas hardest hit by the blast and home to many old buildings that collapsed in the shock wave. Work was slow, rescuers said earlier in the day, as the badly damaged building was in danger of collapsing completely.

“The building is really in ruins, it’s scary and there is a lot of danger for the team,” said George Abou Moussa, director of operations at the Lebanese Civil Defense.

Workers used shovels and their hands to dig, while power shovels and a crane lifted heavy debris. Scanning equipment was also used to create 3D images of the destroyed building.

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