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NYC Building Collapses after Report of Explosion

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 3/13/14 @ 11 a.m.
NEW YORK (AP) - A seventh person has been confirmed killed by an explosion that flattened two New York City apartment buildings.

Fire Department spokesman Danny Glover said Thursday that a seventh body had been found in the rubble. Police say the victim, recovered around 7:15 a.m., was an adult male.

Three bodies were found Wednesday and three more overnight.

A gas leak triggered the explosion Wednesday morning on Park Avenue and 116th Street in East Harlem. The blast also injured more than 60 people, including at least three children.

The explosion shattered windows a block away, cast a plume of smoke over the skyline and sent people running into the streets.

Authorities say the fiery blast erupted about 15 minutes after a neighboring resident reported smelling gas.



UPDATE 3/12/14 @ 4:45 p.m.
NEW YORK (AP) - Rescue workers haven't yet been able to venture into the rubble of two apartment buildings in New York's East Harlem neighborhood to look for additional victims of an explosion that brought down the two five-story buildings this morning.

Two women are confirmed dead, with more than 20 people injured. And authorities say more than a dozen are missing -- but they're not sure how many of them may have been in the apartment buildings when the explosion took place.

A tenant says residents had complained repeatedly in recent weeks about "unbearable" gas smells. But the utility Con Edison says it hadn't heard of any issues with the gas until this morning, shortly before the explosion.

One man says the explosion destroyed everything his family owned. He's assuming his five-year-old terrier was killed.



UPDATE 3/12/14 @ 2:25 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The National Transportation Safety Board said it is sending a team of experts to New York City to investigate an explosion and building collapse.

The explosion flattened two East Harlem apartment buildings Wednesday as utility workers were on their way to investigate a report of a gas leak. At least two people were killed, more than 20 injured and over a dozen others unaccounted for.

The safety board investigates pipeline accidents as well as accidents involving all modes of transportation.



UPDATE 3/12/14 @ 1:45 p.m.
NEW YORK (AP) - The New York City fire department says more than a dozen people are still missing after an explosion leveled two apartment buildings, killing two people.

The department also says more than 20 others were injured, including two with life-threatening injuries.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says some of those unaccounted for may have fled to safety. He says the city is expending every effort to locate them.

The White House issued a statement offering "thoughts and prayers" and commending first responders.

The mayor urged worried relatives to call 311. A hotline was being set up.

The cause was not immediately known. However, utility workers were on the way to check out a report of a gas odor at the time of the 9:30 a.m. blast Wednesday.



UPDATE 3/12/14 @ 1:40 p.m.
NEW YORK (AP) - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says more than a dozen people are still missing after an explosion leveled two apartment buildings, killing two people.

The fire department says more than 20 others were injured, including two with life-threatening injuries.

De Blasio says some of those unaccounted for may have fled to safety. He says the city is expending every effort to locate them.

The White House issued a statement offering "thoughts and prayers" and commending first responders.

The mayor urged worried relatives to call 311. A hotline was being set up.

The cause was not immediately known. However, utility workers were on the way to check out a report of a gas odor at the time of the 9:30 a.m. blast Wednesday.



UPDATE 3/12/14 @ 1:10 p.m.
NEW YORK (AP) - A thunderous explosion that may have been caused by a gas leak flattened two East Harlem apartment buildings Wednesday, killing at least two people, injuring 18 and leaving an undisclosed number missing.

Utility workers were on the way to check out a report of a gas odor at the time of the 9:30 a.m. blast, which shattered store windows for blocks, hurled debris onto elevated commuter railroad tracks close by, cast a plume of smoke over the skyline and sent people running into the streets.

The two five-story brick buildings on Park Avenue at 116th Street were reduced to a burning heap of bricks and metal.

"It felt like an earthquake had rattled my whole building," said Waldemar Infante, a porter who was working in a basement nearby. "There were glass shards everywhere on the ground, and all the stores had their windows blown out."

Police said two females died, but they had no further details. Mayor Bill de Blasio said authorities were trying to locate "a number of missing individuals," some of whom may have fled to safety.

Con Edison had received a report of a gas leak 15 minutes before the explosion, de Blasio said. The blast occurred before the Con Edison team arrived, according to the mayor.

The East Harlem neighborhood stood at a standstill as police set up barricades to keep residents away. Thick, acrid smoke rose into the air, causing people's eyes to water. Some wore surgical masks, while others held their hands or scarves over their faces.

Sidewalks for blocks around were littered with broken glass. Witnesses said the blast at Park Avenue and 116th Street was so powerful it knocked groceries off the shelves of nearby stores.

One of the side-by-side Park Avenue buildings had a piano store on the first floor, the other a storefront church. Building Department records don't show any work in progress at either address, but the building with the church had obtained permits to install new gas pipes in June.

A resident of the one of the buildings, Eusebio Perez, heard news of the explosion and hurried back from his job as a piano technician. "There's nothing left," he said. "Just a bunch of bricks and wood." Perez, 48, said he shared an apartment with a roommate and was unsure what his next steps would be.

"I only have what I'm wearing," he said. "I have to find a place to stay for tonight and organize what's going to be my next steps."

The explosion occurred very close to Metro-North tracks. Metro-North service was suspended commuter train service to and from Grand Central on all its lines while employees removed debris from the tracks.



UPDATE 3/12/14 @ 12:50 p.m.
NEW YORK (AP) - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says people are still missing after an explosion leveled two apartment buildings, killing two people and injuring 18 others.

De Blasio says: "There are a number of missing individuals." He suggests some may have fled to safety and says the city is expending every effort to locate the people who are still unaccounted for.

The mayor urged worried relatives to call 311. A hotline was being set up.

The mayor says Con Edison is shutting down all gas mains going into the building.

He says a gas leak was reported to the utility 15 minutes before the explosion. The explosion occurred before the Con Edison team arrived.



UPDATE 3/12/14 @ 12:08 p.m.
NEW YORK (AP) - An explosion has leveled two New York City apartment buildings, killing two people and injuring 17 others.

The New York Police Department says two females died in the East Harlem blast. No other information is available.

A utility company says a resident in a nearby building reported smelling gas shortly before the explosion Wednesday morning.

Con Edison spokesman Bob McGee says a resident from a building adjacent to the two that collapsed reported that he smelled gas inside his apartment, but thought the odor could be coming from outside.

He would not speculate on whether a gas leak caused the explosion.



UPDATE 3/12/14 @ 11:35 a.m.
NEW YORK (AP) - An explosion has leveled a New York City apartment building, killing one person and injuring 15 others.

The New York Police Department says one person died. No other information is available.

Residents heard a large explosion near Park Avenue and 116th Street in East Harlem around 9 a.m. Wednesday. One five-story building was reduced to rubble, and images from the scene showed a second building also was badly damaged.

TV news footage shows billowing smoke and firefighters dousing the site from ladder trucks. Bricks also cover parked vehicles.

Sidewalks for blocks around are littered with broken glass from shattered storefront and apartment windows.

The site is next to Metro-North commuter railroad tracks. Train service is halted to and from Grand Central Terminal.

Crews tell NBC New York that shortly before the explosion happened, they were en route to the area responding to a call of a gas smell.



ORIGINAL STORY 3/12/14 @ 11:25 a.m.
NEW YORK (AP) - A New York City apartment building has exploded in huge flames and billowing black smoke, leading to the collapse of at least one building and 16 injuries.

The New York City fire department says 15 people were treated for minor injuries at the scene. Another person with serious trauma was transported to Harlem Hospital.

Residents heard a large explosion near Park Avenue and 116th Street in East Harlem around 9 a.m. Wednesday. One five-story building was reduced to rubble, and a second building also is heavily damaged.

Sidewalks for blocks around are littered with broken glass from shattered storefront and apartment windows. Witnesses say the blast was so powerful it knocked groceries off the shelves of nearby stores.

The site is next to Metro-North commuter railroad tracks. Train service is halted to and from Grand Central Terminal.

Crews tell NBC New York that shortly before the explosion happened, they were en route to the area responding to a call of a gas smell.


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