Rescuers sift Beirut rubble amid signs of life a month after blast

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BEIRUT – Rescue workers in Beirut dug through the rubble of a collapsed building with their hands on Friday after signs of life were detected under a mound of debris one month after a huge explosion shattered the capital.

A group of workers pulled up chunks of concrete and other broken masonry as they dug down in the residential district of Gemmayze after rescue workers said on Thursday they had detected signs of a pulse and breathing, a Reuters witness said.

The Aug. 4 explosion at the nearby Beirut port was caused by massive amounts of badly stored ammonium nitrate. It killed about 190 people and injured 6,000, adding to the woes of a nation already crippled by a deep economic crisis.

A crane was brought to the search area to help by carefully lifting up steel girders and other heavy pieces of debris.

Residents gathered nearby, holding out hope that someone could be found, while some voiced frustration that not enough had been done earlier to find survivors.

“How many people could have survived if there had been a state and rescue operations ready?” asked 28-year-old Chadem.

The explosion ripped through a swathe of the capital, smashing up districts such as Gemmayze, home to many old, traditional buildings, some of which collapsed in the shockwave.

The team of rescue workers included volunteers from Chile, as well as Lebanese volunteers and members of the civil defence.

The building where the search was being conducted had once housed a bar on its ground floor.

Reuters

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