Beirut: dog detects possible heartbeat beneath the rubble, one month after blast

After a rescue dog indicated the presence of life under the Beirut rubble, workers believe they have may have detected a child’s heartbeat.

Exactly one month after the massive explosion that rocked Beirut, a search-and-rescue dog has detected signs of possible life under the rubble of a building that collapsed in the neighbourhood of Gemmayze.

The dog, named Flash, is part of a Chilean search-and-rescue team, TOPOS CHILE. Following the discovery, the team used specialist equipment and detected what appeared to be a heartbeat and breathing.

beirut rubble heartbeat
Photo: AP/Bilal Hussein

On August 4, an explosion ripped through the port of Beirut, leaving 191 people dead, more than 6,000 injured, and 300,000 people homeless, whilst devastating much of the city.

Almost exactly a month later, on Wednesday evening a rescue team were revisiting the area of Gemmayze to ensure all infrastructure was secure when the dog ran towards the collapsed building and gave a sign that there was a person alive, as reported by Al Jazeera.

Following this, the team used audio detection equipment and discovered signs of breathing and a heartbeat of around 18 beats per minute on the ground floor of the building. The team believe that it likely belongs to a child.

“These [signs] along with the temperature sensor means there is a possibility of life,” NGO Live Love Lebanon member Edward Bitar described, according to the New York Post. The rescue team also detected at least one other body.

The discovery prompted an immediate search, with the rescue effort splitting into teams and carefully working to remove the rubble, aided by Army, fire service, and volunteer rescuers. A tent with floodlights and supplies was set up by the Red Cross as night began to fall and there were intermittent calls for silence as the rescuers listened for any signs of life.

Yet due to unsafe conditions, rescue teams decided to pause the search overnight, with efforts set to continue in the morning, aided by the arrival of cranes and heavy machinery. However, the decision left many Beirut locals furious, with the crowds claiming that the trapped person could die.

Following this, locals decided to take matters into their own hands, sourcing a crane and continuing to work through the night in an attempt to rescue whoever may be trapped.

Whilst there is no guarantee that the person is still alive under the rubble, everyone is holding onto hope.