Beirut - French President Emmanuel Macron promised angry Lebanese crowds in shattered Beirut that aid to rebuild the city would not go to „corrupt hands“ and he urged the political authorities to carry out reforms or risk plunging Lebanon deeper into crisis.Macron was speaking during the first visit by a foreign leader to the Lebanese capital since the biggest blast in its history tore through the city, killing at least 145 people, injured 5,000 and leaving swathe of the capital in tatters. After visiting the port at the epicentre of the blast, Macron was greeted by crowds in nearby Gemmayze street, one of the most damaged in the city, shouting chants against the political establishment and endemic corruption: "I guarantee you, this aid will not go to corrupt hands," said Macron, who was wearing a black tie in mourning.
He promised to send more medical and other aid to Lebanon, while those around him chanted 'Revolution' and 'The people want the fall of the regime.' "I will talk to all political forces to ask them for a new pact. I am here today to propose a new political pact to them," he said, shaking hands on roads strewn with rubble and flanked by shops with windows blown out. Residents, shop owners and volunteers have led clean-up efforts in the popular street of cafes and restaurants, where the blast ripped out balconies and smashed store facades. Macron was applauded by the crowds in the neighbourhood, in a mainly Christian part of the capital, with chants of 'Vive la France!' 'Help us!' 'You are our only hope!'". Some also chanted against President Michel Aoun, who is a Maronite Christian under Lebanon's political arrangement of dividing powerful positions between sects.
Officials blamed the blast on a huge stockpile of a highly explosive material stored for years in unsafe conditions at Beirut port. The government ordered some port workers arrested. Many Lebanese, who have lost jobs and watched savings evaporate in a financial crisis, say the blast was symptomatic of neglect and corruption in the political system.