PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Beirut on Thursday to offer European assistance after the enormous explosion that killed at least 100 people and wounded thousands more in the Lebanese capital.
Macron will meet with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Hassan Diab and other senior officials, an Elysée official said.
Up to 300,000 Lebanese have been left homeless by Tuesday’s blast in the port area of the city, which was housing highly explosive material. The cost of the damage ranges between $3 to 5 billion, Beirut’s governor Marwan Abboud told AFP. Lebanon is already suffering from a severe economic downturn and the impact of coronavirus pandemic, leaving it ill-equipped to deal with the disaster.
Three planes have already left Paris with 25 tons of medical supplies and humanitarian aid, and ministers will meet this afternoon to coordinate the French help that Macron promised on Tuesday in a tweet.
“France is standing by Lebanon’s side. Always. French aid and resources are on their way there,” he said.
In the French capital, the Eiffel tower will turn its lights off tonight in solidarity with Lebanon, the city’s mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted, while the Paris city and region will send funds to help Beirut.
Janez Lenarčič, EU commissioner for crisis management, expressed his “shock and sadness” at the disaster. He announced that the EU would coordinate the deployment of over 100 trained and equipped firefighters to work with the Lebanese authorities. The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Poland and the Czech Republic confirmed their participation and others are expected to join.
“At this difficult time, the European Union offers its full support to the Lebanese people,” said Lenarčič.
The Commission has also activated its satellite emergency response system, promising detailed mapping of the blast area to determine the scale of destruction. The imaging from Sentinel satellites under the EU’s Copernicus program is usually used to monitor flooding and forest fires.
Click Here: Cheap France Rugby Jersey
“In the spirit of solidarity we will do all we can to help the Lebanese people overcome this tragedy,” European Council President Charles Michel tweeted Wednesday after speaking with Lebanon’s president.
Other leaders across the bloc have also expressed their condolences and offered individual support to the country.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said authorities in Lebanon “can count on the help and support of the federal government” in a note to Diab, with a team of 47 search-and-rescue experts from the country’s disaster response agency being deployed to help.
Greece has sent a special disaster unit rescue team after Lebanon lodged a request through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The team is accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Fragogiannis, while Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the country stands ready to send additional help if needed.
Italy, meanwhile, offered the help of its forces serving in the United Nations mission.
“Italy is close to Lebanese friends in this tragic moment. Our thoughts go to the families of the victims, to whom we express our deep condolences, and to the injured people, to whom we wish a speedy recovery,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio tweeted.
Nektaria Stamouli contributed reporting.