After several hours of digging through rubble, however, the operation was halted because the building was deemed too unsafe. Heavier machinery was required to help lift the rubble safely, a rescue worker said, and it could not be brought until morning. Other reports place the rescuers on site working through the night.
“There’s a lot of danger to the team,” Michel al-Mur told reporters. “There are 10 of them up there, and we can’t take a risk on a single one of them.”
The team of rescue workers included volunteers who came from Chile, as well as Lebanese volunteers and members of the civil defence.
News of the rescue prompted crowds to form at the 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.
Earlier in the evening, rescue workers in bright jackets clambered over the building, which had collapsed in the blast. It once housed a bar on its ground floor. Floodlights were later set up.
More ammonium nitrate found
The Lebanese military discovered more than four tonnes of ammonium nitrate near Beirut’s port on Thursday, a find that’s a chilling reminder of the horrific explosion a month ago that killed 191 people.
According to the military, army experts were called in for an inspection and found 4.35 tonnes of the dangerous chemical in four containers stored near the port. There were no details on the origin of the chemicals or their owner.
The find comes almost exactly a month after nearly 3000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at Beirut’s port for six years detonated, wreaking death and destruction. Along with 191 people killed, more than 6000 were injured and entire neighbourhoods were devastated. The blast left nearly 300,000 people homeless and caused damage worth billions of dollars.
The military statement said that customs officials had called in the army to inspect containers at a facility near the port, where they found 4.35 tonnes of ammonium nitrate. It said army experts were “dealing with the material,” an apparent reference that it was being destroyed.
Days after the 4 blast, French and Italian chemical experts working amid the remains of the port identified more than 20 containers carrying dangerous chemicals. The army later said that these containers were moved and stored safely in locations away from the port.
French experts as well as the FBI have taken part in the investigation into the blast, at the request of Lebanese authorities. Their findings have yet to be released.
So far, authorities have detained 25 people over last month’s explosion, most of them port and customs officials.
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