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A new sensitive microwave life-detection which can be used to locate human subjects buried earthquake rubble or hidden behind various barriers has been constructed. This system operating at 1150 MHz or 450 MHz can detect the breathing and heartbeat signals of human subjects through an earthquake rubble or a construction barrier of about 10-ft thickness. The basic physical principle for the operation of a microwave life-detection system is rather simple. When a microwave beam of appropriate frequency (L or S band) is aimed at a pile of earthquake rubble covering a human subject or illuminated through a barrier obstructing a human subject, the microwave beam can penetrate the rubble or the barrier to reach the human subject. When the human subject is illuminated by a microwave beam, the reflected wave from the human subject will be modulated by tile subject's body movements, which include the breathing and the heartbeat. If the clutter consisting of the reflected wave from stationary background can be completely eliminated and the reflected wave from the human subject's body is properly modulated, the breathing and heartbeat signals of the subject can be extracted. Thus, a human subject buried under earthquake rubble or hidden behind barriers can be located. This system has been tested extensively in a simulated earthquake rubble in the laboratory and also in a field test using realistic earthquake rubble conducted by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Task Force.