At least eight people died and 78 were injured after a massive car bomb exploded in central Beirut, Lebanon, state media reported.

The explosion occurred during rush hour in Sassine Square in the Ashafriyeh district, a predominantly Christian area.

Pictures show cars on fire and devastation in the area with several buildings badly damaged.

Security forces and ambulances rushed on the incident's spot, as resident helped carrying the wounded. Local hospitals appealed for blood donators to come forward, Reuters Reported.

It was the worst bomb attack in Lebanon since 2008.

Analysts believe it could be the result of the increasing tensions between Lebanese factions over the neighbouring Syrian war.

Frictions between Sunnis and Shi'ites have been a constant issue in Lebanon's politics paramount.

In Syria the rebellion is led by mainly by Sunni insurgents, while President Bashar al- Assad Alawite minority is closer to Shi'ite Islam.

Lebanon Shi'a Islamic militant group Hezbollah has been often accused of directly supporting Assad's regime and has for many years been funded by Syria in a proxy war against Israel.