August 19, 2003 - Posted at: 8:40 a.m. CDT
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A huge car bomb Tuesday brought down the front of the Canal Hotel, headquarters for the United Nations in Baghdad.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw nine people being carried out of the hotel on stretchers.
Nazar Hababa, the U.N. driver, was covered in blood as he recounted seeing victims, both Iraqis and foreigners, in the rubble.
Sgt. Amy Abbott said the blast was caused by a car bomb. She said military ambulances and security forces were at the scene of the blast which occurred at about 4:30 p.m. She said she did not yet have casualty figures and did not know if anyone had been killed.
The U.N. spokesman in Baghdad, Salim Lone, informed U.N. headquarters in New York that a number of people were hurt in the explosion, but no one was killed as far as he knew.
He said the explosion destroyed a significant part of the building, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York.
The blast knocked windows out of houses as far away as 1.5 kilometers (about a mile) away, residents said. The hotel sits in northeast Baghdad.
Dozens of U.S. Humvees were at the scene and at least two Black Hawk helicopters hovered above. Black smoke rose hundreds of feet into the air.
United Nations weapons inspectors worked out of the hotel during the period before the war in Iraq as the international community sought, but failed to find, Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
"My house shook like it did during the bombing at the start of the war," a resident in the area around the hotel said.