Emmanuel Macron's visit to the small Mediterranean country, France's Middle East protege and former colonial-era protectorate was the first by a foreign head of state since Tuesday's unprecedented tragedy.
Two days on, Lebanon was still reeling from a blast so huge it was felt in neighboring countries, its mushroom-shaped cloud drawing comparisons with the Hiroshima atom bomb.
"Apocalypse", "Armageddon" — Lebanese were lost for words to describe the impact of the blast, which dwarfed anything the country had experienced in its violence-plagued history.
The deadly explosion left dozens more missing and a staggering 5,000 people wounded, many by flying shards of glass as windows imploded.
The death toll was expected to rise as rescue workers keep digging through the rubble.
Offering a glimmer of hope amid the carnage, a French rescuer said there was a "good chance of finding... people alive", especially a group believed to be trapped in a room under the rubble.
"We are looking for seven or eight missing people, who could be stuck in a control room buried by the explosion," the colonel told Macron as he surveyed the site.
'Shock to anger'
Paris has spearheaded international mobilization in support of Lebanon, where flights carrying medical aid, field hospitals, rescue experts and tracking dogs have arrived since Wednesday.
Beirut's governor estimated up to 300,000 people have been left temporarily homeless by the destruction, which he said would cost the debt-ridden country in excess of three billion dollars.