A pulsed signal was detected under the rubble of a building that collapsed in the Beirut port explosion last month, raising faint hopes that there might be a survivor there.
A sniffer dog belonging to a Chilean search and rescue team first detected something in the rubble of a building that had already been searched. The team then used audio equipment to listen for a possible heartbeat and detected what could be a pulse of 18 to 19 beats per minute.
It is extremely unlikely that any survivors will be found a month after the explosion, which killed 191 people, injured 6,000 and damaged thousands of homes. The last few weeks have been extremely hot in Lebanon, with high humidity levels.
“99% there is nothing, but even if there is less than 1% hope, we must continue to search,” said Youssef Malah, a civil defense agent. He said his men would continue to work through the night.
A Chilean volunteer, Francesco Lermonda, said their equipment identified the breathing and heartbeats of humans, not animals, and detected a sign at the site. He said it was rare but not unusual for someone to survive under the rubble for a month.
As night fell, rescuers set up lights to work in the dark. From time to time, the Chilean team have asked spectators to turn off their phones and remain silent while they listened for signs of life.
French experts as well as the FBI participated in the investigation into the explosion at the request of the Lebanese authorities. Their findings have not yet been published. Authorities arrested 25 people in connection with the explosion, most of them port and customs officials.