Editor's note: A car bomb exploded in the heart of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, the country's National News Agency (NNA) reported. Below is our live blog of how we learned the news as it came in and here is the full story from Lebanon. Are you in Beirut? Share your photos and video with iReport. Follow this story in Arabic on CNNArabic.com.
[Updated at 12:25 p.m.] A Lebanese political source who did not want to be named told CNN that it had been 99% confirmed that Wissam al Hassan, the chief of the information branch of Lebanonâ€™s internal security service, was killed in the blast. "There is an unrecognizable body found, and they have found his personal belongings at the scene," the source said.
[Updated at 10:49 a.m.]Â Syria - which borders Lebanon - condemned Friday's deadly car bombing in Beirut, Â the state-run news agency reported. Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi called it a "coward terrorist attack."
[Updated at 9:59 a.m.] CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom said the popular, predominantly Christian neighborhood struck by the blast was "the last place nowadays you would expect this kind of violence."Â
Injured people were still being treated at Sassine Square and put into ambulances more than an hour after the explosion, he said.
And what looked like forensic investigators were there, going into the damaged buildings.
[Updated at 9:20 a.m.] The LebaneseÂ NNA now says eight people were killed and 78 injured in the explosion.
[Updated at 9:11 a.m.]Â More than 30 people were hurt in the explosion and are being treated in the ER of the Hotel Dieu hospital, a senior hospital official told CNN's Nada Husseini.Â
Some are seriously injured, others were slightly hurt, the official said in a phone call, adding no dead victims had been brought in.
[Updated at 8:55 a.m.]Â At least five people were injured, three of them seriously, NNA says.Â
The blast hit the Ashrafiyeh district in East Beirut, a predominantly Christian area.
The force of the explosion shook windows in CNN's offices, about 10 minutes away from the scene.
[Updated at 8:48 a.m.] At least one car was engulfed in flames and blackened wreckage litters the street.
The apparent attackÂ did not target any political figure and the security forces asked citizens to stay away from the area, Lebanon's state news agency NNA says.
[Updated at 8:43 a.m.]Â Video from the scene is showing people carrying victims to ambulances, and rows of mangled cars and charred buildings.Â
Military and emergency personnel are there amid shocked crowds.
[Updated at 8:32 a.m.]Â It was a car bomb that caused the blast, according to Lebanese state news agency NNA.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh says there is "chaos" in central Beirut. He says several people appear wounded from the large blast.
[Posted at 8:11 a.m.] A large explosion is being reported in central Beirut, the capital of Lebanon.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh says black smoke can be seen rising from the site of the blast.
There's no indication yet on what caused the explosion. We'll bring you more details as we get them.