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French President Emmanuel Macron was the first world leader to visit Beirut, two days after the incident which wounded thousands. Lebanon was devastated by an explosion ripping through its capital’s biggest port, leaving at least 154 people dead. France24 Senior Reporter, James Andre, gave insight into why the European leader had moved so quickly in the wake of the disaster.
He told viewers: “What Emmanuel Macron is doing is coming in and saying, ‘France is watching.
“‘We want to make sure that there’s no mismanagement with this aid.
“‘We want to make sure that indeed it will go to the right places.’
“He’s even saying that he’s ready to manage the international relief efforts.”
Mr Andre continued: “The history of France with Lebanon is very different from Algeria or other countries.
“A French President turning up 48 hours after a major catastrophe to basically say ‘he’s here to manage things’ – would absolutely be unheard of or impossible in former French colonies.
“France cannot play that role in Algeria but it can indeed in Lebanon, it’s a very different set up.
“France has been losing a lot of its influence in Lebanon over the past 15 years.”
He added: “Less and less people are learning French, the language is not as important as it was, the schools are not as important as they were.
“While this is an opportunity for France to come back on the scene, it’s also important to note that Macron had been wanting to visit Lebanon for a few months now to organise a state visit.
“But he had not wanted to be seen alongside these politicians that are being extremely criticised by the country.”
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Videos of the event show a fire in Beirut port.
In footage taken, a huge expanse of white smoke is then seen as the explosion occurs.
The blast was heard from 150 miles away.
Beirut’s hospitals were overwhelmed by casualties in need of urgent treatment.
Rescue teams are searching for missing people at the scene of the explosion.
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