Powerful blast rocks Beirut

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IOL pic nov19 beirut blast

Associated Press

Lebanese men remove a charred corpse from a burned car at the scene of the explosion outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut.

Beirut - A powerful blast in Beirut killed at least 10 people on Monday outside the Iranian embassy in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital, police and security sources told AFP.

The explosion occurred in the Bir Hassan neighbourhood, a stronghold of the Shi’a movement Hezbollah, which has already seen its bastions in southern Beirut targeted with blasts twice this year.

A source at the Lebanese foreign ministry said Iran's ambassador to Beirut, Ghadanfar Rokon Abadi, was not harmed in the explosion, which took place directly opposite the embassy.

A resident of the neighbourhood said he had heard the sound of two blasts, an initial weaker explosion followed by a much louder one.

An AFP correspondent at the scene described chaos, with blood on the streets and the facades of at least four buildings opposite the embassy ripped off by the blast.

The Zahraa hospital nearby said it had received the bodies of five people and was treating at least 35 others for various wounds.

The official National News Agency said more than 50 people had been wounded.

Lebanese media broadcast harrowing images from the scene of the blast, with charred bodies, some still on fire, on a street lined by blazing cars and strewn with the rubble.

Cars and trees were blackened, and men hurriedly carried the wounded away from the scene on stretchers.

Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in war-hit Syria, has seen its strongholds in southern Beirut targeted twice by car bombs this year.

The blasts, on July 9 and August 15, killed 27 people.

Tensions in Lebanon over the 32-month-old conflict in Syria have been rising, with Hezbollah's involvement criticised by many Sunni Lebanese who back the Sunni-dominated uprising against Assad. - AFP

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