France will send three planes to Beirut on Wednesday with rescuers, medical equipment and a mobile clinic, followed by a visit by President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday to the city devastated by a massive explosion, the government said.The presidency announced that two military planes would leave Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris around noon (10:00 GMT) to arrive in the Lebanese capital at the end of the afternoon with 55 search and rescue personnel on board. , he said.
The planes would also bring 25 tons of medical equipment and a mobile clinic equipped to treat 500 wounded.
A dozen rescuers will also be sent soon to Beirut “to reinforce the hospitals of the Lebanese capital”, indicated the presidency.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian later said a third private humanitarian plane would depart from Marseille in southern France with teams of medical personnel who would be “immediately operational”.
Marseille firefighters said they had made available equipment and nine staff – four emergency doctors, three nurses and two maritime firefighters.
A cataclysmic explosion at the Port of Beirut wreaked havoc on entire neighborhoods, killing more than 100 people and injuring thousands.
The explosion appears to have been caused by a fire that ignited 2,750 tons of unsecured ammonium nitrate in a warehouse.
“It is during the trials that the friends are there, and we are there,” Le Drian said after a telephone conversation with his Lebanese counterpart Charbel Wehbe.
President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday evening called his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun to express France’s support for the Lebanese people and to promise them to send French aid.
On Thursday, Macron will travel to Beirut to “meet all the political actors”, including Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab, announced the Elysee.
Le Drian said France would continue to mobilize assistance when needed.
“For now, it is time to ensure international solidarity” with Lebanon, he told broadcaster LCI, stressing that food aid will be at the top of the list because the explosion in the port of Beirut had destroyed crucial grain silos.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations expressed fears on Wednesday that the destruction of the silos would lead to severe shortages of flour.
The 55 rescuers deployed from Paris on Wednesday are specialists in clearing and rescuing rubble after the disaster, the Elysee said, adding that France was working to “identify additional needs” on the ground in Beirut.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex will meet on Wednesday the ministers responsible for coordinating aid to Beirut.