A red cloud hung over Beirut in the wake of the blast, as firefighting teams rushed to the scene to try to put out the fire.
Homes up to 10 kilometers (6 miles) away were damaged, according to witnesses, and footage from local media showed wrecked cars, apparently flipped over by the force of the blast.
One Beirut resident who was several kilometers away from the site of the explosion said her windows had been shattered by the explosion. "What I felt was that it was an earthquake," Rania Masri told CNN.
The apartment shook horizontally, and all of a sudden it felt like an explosion and the windows and doors burst open. The glass just broke. So many homes were damaged or destroyed."