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Moricod calls for 'deep change' in Lebanon after blast

d calls for 'deep change' in Lebanon after blast

France's President Emmanuel Macron has called for "profound change" from Lebanon's leadership following Tuesday's huge explosion in Beirut.

Visiting the devastated city, he called for an international investigation.

Many Lebanese say government corruption, neglect and mismanagement led to the explosion.

It killed at least 137 people and injured about 5,000 others, while dozens are still missing. A two-week state of emergency has begun.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun says it was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely in a warehouse.

How ship's deadly cargo ended up at Beirut port

The state news agency says 16 people have been taken into custody as part of the investigation.

Judge Fadi Akiki, a government representative at the military court, said more than 18 port and customs officials and maintenance workers at the warehouse had been questioned.

What did Macron say?

The first world leader to visit since the explosion, Mr Macron described it as a "metaphor for Lebanon's current crisis" and said a "new political order" was needed. Funding was available for the country but its leaders had to implement reforms first, he said.

He also called for an international investigation into the explosion "to prevent things from remaining hidden and doubt from creeping in".

An aid conference for Lebanon would be announced in the coming days, he said. France would make sure aid was sent directly to relief organisations working on the ground.

An audit of Lebanon's central bank was also needed - "If there is no audit of the central bank, in a few months there will be no more imports and then there will be a lack of fuel and of food," Mr Macron said.

Earlier in the day the French president was mobbed as he walked around the blast-hit city, with residents imploring him to help and denouncing their leaders.

"Help us, you are our only hope," one resident called out. "Please don't give money to our corrupt government," said another, before adding: "We can't take this any more."

France - the former colonial power in Lebanon - has sent three planes carrying rescuers and medical kit to Lebanon, with a fourth arriving later and a French navy helicopter carrier carrying French investigators and further supplies due to arrive next week.

Media captionAerial footage shows flattened buildings after an explosion in Beirut's port area
A city of sirens, empty buildings and empty streets

By Quentin Sommerville, BBC News, Beirut

This port was Lebanon's lifeline to the whole world. Something like 80% of the county's grain came through here. The grain silos, which were built way back when, are teetering. Just beyond there I can see a ship listing heavily. I've lived in Beirut for five years and it's almost unrecognisable - it's a city of sirens, of empty buildings, of empty streets.

As I look at the neighbourhood of Gemmayze just behind the port, I can't see a single pane of glass left. Entire roofs have gone - I can see friends' apartments which are just open to the sky now. All of this area, which was really heavily populated, has been abandoned. No-one is coming back here any time soon.

What's really noticeable as you walk the streets here is that every second person seems to have a broom in their hand. There are clear-up teams everywhere, but it's pretty low tech: tiny teams of people with pans and brushes to clean up an an entire city's devastation.




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