Hundreds of Christmas revellers were evacuated this evening (13 December) following a small explosion in Belfast City Centre.

City workers were forced to vacate restaurants and bars in the Cathedral Quarter when a device partially exploded.

The device, which was left at the rear of St Anne's Cathedral just off lower Donegall Street, went off as police were clearing the area.

Apartments in the area were also evacuated as police closed off the area to pedestrians and motorists.

DUP MLA Jonathan Craig has condemned the attack, saying: "This was an absolutely reckless incident in Belfast. There was an explosion while the area was being cleared. It's a miracle no one was injured."

Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers has described the attack as "deplorable."

Army technical officers are at the scene examining the device, while police sniffer dogs have been sent in to the area to try and determine if there are any further devices.

Police say a telephone warning was made before the blast.

Noone was hurt.