Two buildings have collapsed in New York leaving four killed and about 63 people injured. Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood buildings crumbled after an explosion on March 12.
Witnesses claimed a loud explosion was heard near Park Avenue and East 116th Street, affecting 1642, 1644 and 1646 Park Avenue while a couple of buildings collapsed, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Fire Department of New York was initially called at 9:31 a.m. and reached the scene within a couple of minutes. According to the authorities, over 250 personnel with 44 units are presently responding to the scene.
Initial investigation revealed the explosion might have been caused by a gas explosion. The Guardian quoted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as saying in a press conference that the explosion was caused by a "gas leak."
He said Con Edison, the utility company, was in the process of shutting off gas sources to the building. The mayor called it the "worst kind" of a "tragedy" as there was no chance to "save people."
According to a witness who claimed he saw the building on fire told CBS News that he had seen a lady running without any shoes on.
Morgan Radford of Al Jazeera reported there was a "gas-like odor" moments before the explosion. Reports noted a resident from a neighboring building did complain about gas odor in Con Edison. The company sent a crew within a couple of minutes and the arrival coincided with the explosion, Company Spokesman Alfonso Quiroz said.
Fire Department Spokesman Michael Parrella called the scene "very active" and "chaotic." Reuters reported that commuter trains had been stopped due to the debris on nearby tracks.
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