A huge explosion in central Beirut has killed at least eight people and wounded at least 78, state media in Lebanon are reporting, according to NPR's Kelly McEvers. The target of the bomb isn't clear, but Reuters says the blast occurred on the same street that's home to a political group that opposes Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Twitter users are begging for city residents to answer phones, to ask friends to check on loved ones and to donate blood. Al Jazeera is showing video tape of bloody victims scrambling over debris in the mostly Christian Ashrafieh neighborhood while firefighters pour water on cars and rubble. Black smoke is belching into the sky.
Update at 9:40 a.m. ET. Updates From Beirut:
Kelly, who is in Beirut, is posting updates on Twitter. She notes that:
"Credible journalist @javierespinosa2 reports a small crater at site of #Beirut explosion, suggesting bomb planted in car. Common tactic here"
Update at 9:35 a.m. ET: According to the BBC, "Friday's attack is the first major car bomb attack in Beirut for four years."
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