Rescuers have said they’ve found no signs of life under a Beirut building destroyed by last month’s devastating explosion.
For the last three days a frantic search has been carried out by a Chilean-Lebanese team after auto detection equipment found what was thought to be a pulse beneath the rubble.
But emergency workers were today forced to admit that it had raised false hopes.
The search was launched on Thursday after a sniffer dog found something under the building in the Gemmayze area of the city.
Initially high-tech equipment detected what was thought to be a pulse of 18 to 19 beats a minute – raising hopes that someone could still be alive.
But by yesterday the rate had fallen to seven beats per minute.
The August 4 explosion at the nearby Beirut port, caused by massive amounts of badly stored ammonium nitrate, killed about 190 people and injured 6,000.
Some 300,000 people were left homeless.
It 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.
Rescue worker Eddy Bitar said at the scene on Thursday: “These (signs of breathing and pulse) along with the temperature sensor means there is a possibility of life.”
After several hours of digging through rubble, however, the operation was halted because the building was deemed too unsafe.
News of the rescue prompted crowds to form at the rescue site, who grew angry as rescue efforts were paused in a city desperate for hope.
“Shame! Shame! There’s a soul in there!” one woman shouted at Lebanese army members guarding the site.