No More Signs of Life in Beirut Building Rubble
Rescuers who last week believed they had detected breathing and body heat beneath a building destroyed in the massive August 4 Beirut port explosion have given up hope of finding anyone alive. “Technically speaking, there are no [longer] signs of life,” Francisco Lermanda, who heads a Chilean rescue group that flew to Beirut to provide assistance, told reporters on Saturday evening at the site. He said that about 95% of the building had been checked, adding that sensitive detection gear sometimes picks up signals from rescuers rather than victims. In total, some 50 people worked at the site since Thursday in hopes of finding survivors. “We never stop with even one percent of hope. We never stop until the job is done,” Lermanda said, referring to the recovery of bodies. The explosion was set off by some 2,700 tons of highly volatile ammonium nitrite improperly stored at the city’s port. The blast killed at least 190 people and left an estimated 300,000 more at least temporarily homeless. Officials say the cleanup and reconstruction will cost at least $15 billion.