Emmanuel Macron arrives in Lebanon to offer support after blast

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The French government has offered help as the country deals with a financial crisis as well as a spike in coronavirus cases

The National

Aug 6, 2020

August 6, 2020

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French President Emmanuel Macron has arrived in Lebanon to offer support after the country's capital experienced a devastating explosion on Tuesday.

He was met off the plane by his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun, two days after a blast that shook a country already battling runaway inflation, mass unemployment and rising poverty. The death toll from the explosion has reached 137 people, with thousands more injured.

In a speech upon his arrival, Mr Macron warned Lebanon will "continue to sink" without reforms, and offered to co-ordinate the international relief effort.

French Securite Civile rescue workers board a military plane at Roissy airport, north of Paris. AP 
French Securite Civile rescue workers board a military plane at Roissy airport, north of Paris. AP 

The French premier's visit was preceded by two planeloads of French rescue workers and aid which landed in Lebanon on Wednesday. Mr Macron is expected to give a speech later on Thursday.

One Frenchman, architect Jean-Marc Bonfils, died in the blast, which smashed windows kilometres away from the explosion at Beirut's port. A further 24 French people were injured.

Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot announced Bonfils' death in a tweet. Junior foreign affairs minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne added on Thursday that, of those injured, three had serious injuries.

As he arrived in Lebanon, Mr Macron's official Twitter account sent a message in Arabic that said: "Lebanon is not alone".

On Wednesday, Mr Macron said he would visit Beirut to "meet the Lebanese people to bring them the message of fraternity and solidarity of the French," adding he would "take stock" of the situation with Lebanese authorities.

Lebanon gained independence from France on January 1, 1944.

Updated: August 6, 2020 01:48 PM

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