The idea that one more person might have survived the explosion became a faint hope in a discouraged city. As in many Lebanon, complaints about scandalous governments are rampant and the economy is getting harder.
These hopes disappeared when the Chilean team leading the search and rescue efforts on Saturday said that no one was alive under the rubble.
“Unfortunately, it can be said that there are no signs of life inside the building today,” said Francisco Lermanda, chief executive of Chilean rescue team Topos, at a press conference.
Previously, the search team thought they had found signs of life, but Lermanda explained that the breath they heard came from his teammates and learned only after checking the area.
“We detected an exhalation around 3 a.m., but after checking the area, we realized that our rescue crew, who entered the first floor a few hours ago, was exhaling. This device is so sensitive that minimal exhalation will be detected,” he said. .
Riad Al Asad, a leading Lebanese engineer working with the Chilean team, said three floors of the building were searched and no live or dead bodies were found. The team will now search India, expect it to take three hours, and then declare an operation, Al Asad said.
Lermanda told reporters that one of the last things the rescue team did before reporting that no one was alive under the rubble was to dig a tunnel and investigate. “We can finally ignore the fact that there was no one inside because we went down the tunnel and two female rescuers (workers) went down because of their expertise and size.”
Topos Chilean rescue units said they would carry out other operations in Beirut if the Lebanese government requests it.
“We want to go anywhere, but we respect the government and the people,” Lermanda said. “If they ask us to go to Ground Zero (the port) or somebody disappeared building, that’s where we go.”
Earlier, Lebanese civil defense personnel told CNN that rescuers tracked what they thought was a heartbeat signal to a location under the debris, but no survivors were found.
“No one was found in the location detected by the machine,” said a volunteer from Civil Defense Qasem Khater.
The search was triggered Thursday by a rescue dog passing through a destroyed building with Chilean rescue teams and marked a sign of life, said local non-governmental organization worker Eddie Vittar.
Thermal burns later showed two bodies. One was a small body rolled up next to a large body. The listening device also registered 18 breathing cycles per minute, Bitar said.
The rescue team reached the site by digging a tunnel through thick concrete debris. Lermanda said he was cautious about being able to find someone alive after a few days under the rubble. But he did not rule it out. One added that it survived for 28 days amid the rubble of Haiti.
This operation aroused tremendous emotions among onlookers in the field. About 100 protests took place off-site when the search was temporarily halted on Thursday for fears that the walls could collapse and the lives of rescuers could be endangered.
Protester Melissa Atala exclaimed, “That breath is our last breath. This is our last hope. Everyone should be ashamed.” A woman was told, “We’ve been here for a month, can’t we stay overnight?”
After the Chilean team left, points poured into the rescue operations, demanding immediate resumption of operations. One woman ordered a crane, and other protesters climbed over the rubble to search for the body.
Tensions continued to rise until the soldiers told the protesters that the team and equipment would soon be back on the scene.
Several people have said that CNN has a strong, rancid odor from buildings destroyed in the aftermath of the explosion. One woman said she continued to warn authorities and urged them to search the site.