French President Emmanuel Macron is expected in Lebanon on Thursday, two days after a monster blast sowed unfathomable destruction in Beirut and brought Paris’s Middle East protege to its knees.
The highest-ranking foreign official to visit the country since Tuesday’s tragedy, Macron will visit the site of the blast that obliterated part of Beirut port and ripped through entire neighbourhoods of the city.
Two days on, Lebanon was still reeling from a blast so huge it was felt in neighbouring countries, its mushroom-shaped cloud drawing comparisons with Hiroshima and the devastation caused by its shockwave with the scene of an earthquake.
The provisional death toll stood at 137 but with dozens missing and 5,000 wounded, the number of victims was expected to rise as rescue workers continued to comb through the rubble.
According to several officials, the explosion was caused by a fire igniting 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser stored in a portside warehouse.
“Apocalypse”, “Armageddon” — Lebanese were lost for words to describe the impact of the blast, which dwarfed anything the country had ever experienced despite its violence-plagued history.
The Beirut governor estimated up to 300,000 people may have been made temporarily homeless by the destruction, which he said would cost the debt-ridden country in excess of three billion dollars.