A massive mushroom cloud explosion has rocked Lebanon’s capital city Beirut.
At least 27 people have been killed by the blast and thousands were injured.
It is not yet clear what caused the explosion, but videos show smoke rising from a fire before the blast. There were also reports of a second explosion.
Health Minister Hamad Hassan said the blasts had killed “around 40” people and left 2500 injured, according to “preliminary estimates”.
The number is likely to rise due to the number of seriously injured people, he said, with medical workers were among the dead.
“It is a disaster in every sense of the word,” he said in an interview with several television channels while visiting a hospital.
The blast shook buildings, shattered windows and sent a huge plume of smoke into the sky, AFP correspondents said.
Lebanese media carried images of people trapped under rubble, some bloodied, after the explosion.
“All the buildings around here have collapsed. I’m walking through glass and debris everywhere, in the dark,” one witness near the port told AFP.
The loud blast in Beirut’s port area was felt across large parts of the city and some districts lost electricity.
Preliminary reports by local Lebanese media said the blast may have been the result of an incident at Beirut’s port.
“Buildings are shaking,” tweeted one resident, while another wrote, “an enormous, deafening explosion just engulfed Beirut. Heard it from miles away”.
Online footage from a Lebanese newspaper office showed blown out windows, scattered furniture and demolished interior panelling.