BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) # An apparent car bombing ripped through the U.N. headquarters at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad on Tuesday, injuring an unknown number of people, U.N. officials told CNN. Among the casualties was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative to Iraq, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said. “He has been injured, but we’re not certain how badly. He appears to be conscious; they are giving him water.”
CNN Correspondent Jane Arraf said security at the hotel had been beefed up considerably but it was still, as a U.N. facility, a softer target than a U.S. military installation.
The United Nations has long performed many roles in the Iraq along with weapons inspection # such as humanitarian, development and refugee programs.
The building was evacuated and a CNN cameraman said flames and smoke were rising as medical helicopters hovered overhead. Windows reportedly were shattered as far as a kilometer away.
CNN’s Duraid Isa said from the scene: “There’s a lot of destruction to the facade of the building and a lot of U.S. military are around. They are cordoning off the area.”