France leads West in helping Lebanon after catastrophic blast in Beirut

French President Emmanuel Macron (centre) visits the site of the explosion in Beirut on Thursday (PHOTO: Associated Press/Thibault Camus)

News summary by Mindy Belz, senior editor of World

France is taking a lead among Western nations, with the United States making tentative (my take) offers of help in the wake of Tuesday’s catastrophic explosion in Beirut. The official death toll stands at 137, with more than 5,000 injured and at least 350,000 made homeless in a blast triggered by a fire that exploded nearly 3,000 metric tons of ammonium nitrate at the city’s port.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron toured the streets of Beirut on Thursday, where he met angry crowds demanding an end to the corrupt political leadership that has dragged Lebanon into its disaster. Protesters also shouted, “Iran get out of Lebanon,” echoing popular frustration currently on display in Iraq and Iran.
  • Churches and ministries in areas near the port are widely damaged but have reported no casualties so far. And they are getting to work with the cleanup.
  • Decades of stoic resistance has turned to rage for Lebanese suffering economic collapse and political gamesmanship before the blast.
  • Israel—in a gesture of solidarity with Lebanon, whose ruling Hezbollah targets its destruction—displayed the flag of Lebanon in lights on the side of Tel Aviv’s city hall.
  • “I genuinely, even now, have no idea how I am not dead,” writes Washington Post reporter Sarah Dadouch from Beirut.
  • Beirut, in photos.
  • Five ways to pray for Lebanon here.

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