The Lebanese army on Sunday said there was little hope of finding survivors in the rubbles at the blast site in Beirut following days of multi-agency search and rescue operations.
“After three days of search and rescue operations we can say we have finished the first phase, which involved the possibility of finding survivors,” AFP quotes Colonel Roger Khoury.
“As technicians working on the ground, we can say we have fading hopes of finding survivors,” he added.
At least 150 people are confirmed dead, and more than 5,000 others are injured in what has been termed as one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history.
Already handling a critical COVID-19 situation, hospitals around Beirut have been further strained as thousands of injuries have flooded in.
Some health facilities were also damaged by the explosion. One near the Beirut port was so badly damaged that patients had to be transferred to nearby fields.
Experts fear that it might accelerate the country’s coronavirus outbreak. Thousands of Beirut residents have been forced to move in with relatives and friends after their homes were damaged, making social distancing a tough act.
Authorities had largely contained the outbreak by imposing a sweeping lockdown in March and April, but case numbers have risen in recent weeks. As of Sunday, Lebanon has reported 6,223 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 78 deaths, according to figures from the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
The explosion happened on the first day since the country ended a five-day lockdown. A renewed lockdown was to go in effect this week, but those plans were canceled after the explosion.