Hundreds of people have been wounded in a massive explosion at Beirut’s port, Lebanese Health Minster Hamad Hassan told Al Jazeera.
The explosion released a shockwave causing widespread damage to buildings and shattering windows in different parts of the city.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear.
Here are the latest updates:
17:51 GMT – In Pictures: Lebanon’s capital Beirut shaken by massive explosion
A massive explosion has rocked Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, causing many casualties, damaging buildings and shattering windows.
The blast, which flattened much of the capital’s port, was felt across the city as a giant mushroom cloud rose above it.
View the photo gallery here.
17:38 GMT – ‘Cars were thrown three floors up onto roofs of factories’: Al Jazeera correspondent
Al Jazeera’s Timour Azhari reaching the Beirut port shortly after the explosion, said the site looks like a “wasteland” with debris seen everywhere.
“Cars [from the ground] were thrown three floors up onto roofs of factories here,” Azhari said.
“Rescue services have not been able to reach the actual site of the explosion yet because fires are still raging. Helicopters are circling the area trying to extinguish the fire,” Azhari said.
Azhari spoke to the captain of an Italian civilian ship, the Orient Queen, that was docked near the blast site.
“He was covered in blood after the explosion threw him across a room of his ship. Several people on board were wounded and taken to hospital.
“It really was an incredible explosion. People here are saying that they have never seen anything like it.
Even on the way here the roads were covered in glass,” Azhari said.
17:27 GMT – Explosion ’caused by highly explosive material stored in warehouse’: Official
Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reporting from Beirut said the head of General Security, General Abbas Ibrahim, visited the site of the explosion and said it appears the explosion was caused by highly explosive material that was stored in a warehouse.
According to Ibrahim, the explosive material was confiscated years ago.
“We are at the entrance of Beirut’s port, you can see behind me the chaos. Ambulances continue to arrive, continue to evacuate the casualties,” Khodr said.
“So far according to security sources, at least 10 people have been killed, but we are expecting that number to rise because we understand from the health minister as well as the Lebanese Red Cross that there has been hundreds of injuries.
“Ambulances have been called from across the country to help in the rescue effort. It was a massive explosion; you can see the fire trucks arriving at the scene trying to put out the flame.”
17:25 GMT – Newsfeed: Large explosion rocks Lebanon’s capital
Large explosion rocks Lebanon’s capital
17:22 GMT – Israel not involved in Beirut explosion, Israeli official says
Israel has nothing to do with a huge explosion at the Beirut port area, an Israeli official has said.
“Israel has nothing to do with the incident,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told Israeli N12 television news that the explosion was most likely an accident caused by a fire.
16:51 GMT – At least ten people killed in explosion: Report
At least 10 bodies have been taken to hospitals following the explosion in Beirut’s port area, a Lebanese security source and a medical source has told Reuters news agency.
16:50 GMT – Hundreds of people wounded: health minister
Hundreds of people have been wounded in a huge explosion that ripped through Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, Hamad Hassan, the country’s health minister, told Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera and news agencies