Friday September 4, 2020 - 10:49 am Toronto time
Rescuers led by a Chilean team are trying desperately to clear the rubble and reach someone who may still may be alive under a collapsed building in Beirut.
TOPOS CHILE, a rescue team from Chile, detected signs of a pulse and breathing on Thursday evening when a rescue dog led them to the collapsed building on Gemmayzeh’s Gouraud Street.
Using a scanning machine, it detected signs of life.
The Chilean rescue worker said it most likely belonged to a child.
The rescue team also detected the presence of at least one body. Could it be the mother of the child?
Following the August 4 explosion at Beirut port that devastated much of the city, the owner of the building said there was nobody in the building.
Residents in the neighbourhood had complained of bad smell—rotting bodies?—but the authorities ignored them.
TOPOS CHILE, a rescue team from the South American country was brought to help clear the rubble before reconstruction begins.
One of their search dogs ran toward the building on the evening of September 3 alerting rescuers to human presence.
Lebanese rescue efforts have been marred by chaos.
Late Thursday evening, the Lebanese army said rescue work must stop fearing a wall might collapse and kill rescue workers.
A crane was needed to support the wall. It would be available only at 8 am the next morning (Friday), the army said.
Both rescuers and people were stunned to hear this.
For more than a month, the authorities had ignored the building and were slow to respond to people’s concerns.
Now that there was sign of life, the authorities were dragging their feet.
Whether the person—a child or a small person—is pulled out alive is not certain.
The effort, however, must continue.
Melissa Fathalla, who together with her friends, is involved in relief work in Beirut, managed to obtain a crane through an acquaintance.
The search continued overnight.
The heartbeat remained detectable on Friday morning, though was noticeably fainter, according to rescue workers.
“I lost my mind when I heard [the army wanted to pause the search]. It’s insane. It’s that one last drop of hope. How can it end with this?” Fathalla told the Middle East Eye.
“But I’m optimistic because the rescue workers ended up staying all night. We want to see the actual effort.”
If the person—a child or whosoever—is pulled out alive, it will be the triumph of hope over despair.
If not, at least the effort would have been made.
The people of Beirut, indeed the entire world, wait anxiously to hear the good news.