Macron 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.

On Wednesday, the government announced that a number of port officials had been placed under house arrest pending an investigation into the explosion.

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”, he said.

An aid conference for Lebanon would be announced in the coming days, he said. France would organise aid along with the European Union and the World Bank and would make sure it 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.