7 dead after explosion causes building collapse in Upper Manhattan – RT

Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014
Heavy smoke pours from the debris as the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) responds to a 5-alarm fire and building collapse at 1646 Park Ave in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan March 12, 2014 in New York City (AFP Photo / Andrew Burton)

Heavy smoke pours from the debris as the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) responds to a 5-alarm fire and building collapse at 1646 Park Ave in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan March 12, 2014 in New York City (AFP Photo / Andrew Burton)

NYC Mayor de Blasio confirmed that a gas leak triggered an explosion which destroyed two buildings in Upper Manhattan Wednesday morning at around 9:31 a.m. EST. Over half a dozen people have now been confirmed dead and over 74 injured.

More than 250 members from the New York Fire Department (FDNY)
have been dispatched, where they continue to extinguish the
remnants of the blaze at 1646 Park Avenue in Harlem. Rescue
workers are using back hoes and a bulldozer to search for any
victims still buried in the rubble. Thermal imaging cameras are
also being employed to identify heat spots which could either
indicate bodies or pockets of fire.

One victim has been identified as 45-year-old Griselde Camacho, a
security officer who worked at the Silberman School of Social
Work building. Also killed was Carmen Tanco, 67, a dental
hygienist. Her cousin, News 12 cameraman Angel Vargas, said the
family started a desperate search when she failed to show up to
work on Wednesday, AP reports.Police identified another victim as
Rosaura Hernandez-Barrios, 21.

The bodies of four unidentified people have also been found. Two
of the unidentified victims are men, and one of htem is a woman.
The FDNY was not immediately able to confirm the sex of the
fourth person.

Hospitals have reported receiving 74 people, including one child
and one woman who suffered critical injuries. Nine people remain
missing following the blast according to the Mayor’s office.

City authorities said a gas leak sparked the massive blast, which
could be felt from a mile away. The explosion blew out windows in
surrounding buildings and sent a hail of debris onto neighboring
streets. Many were trapped in the cars and apartments in the
immediate aftermath of the disaster.

“It sounded like a bomb went off, so everyone started
screaming, ‘They blew up the Metro North!’ But when we got there,
we saw it was the building and started pulling people out,”

Denise Ortiz, who was at a nearby doctor’s office when the
building collapsed, told Fox 19.

On Twitter, one eyewitness said he was on his way to work when he
came across the scene and saw nearby cars covered by bricks and
glass. Another, Campus Reform reporter Katherine Timpf, tweeted
that her apartment five blocks away on 121 Street shook as the
explosion occurred.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was scant warning to
organize an evacuation, as the blast came only 20 minutes after
city authorities were alerted to the gas leak.

“This is a tragedy of the worst kind because there was no
indication in time to save people,”
he said, adding that the
search “will take quite a bit of time.”

The New York Police Department’s bomb squad was initially called
to the scene, though

The building is on the west side of Park Avenue in New York
City’s East Harlem neighborhood between 116 and 117 Street, and
contained a piano store in addition to apartments.

The Metro-North railroad suspended service in and out of Grand
Central Terminal in downtown Manhattan as a precaution, and local
trains were halted after debris reportedly landed on the tracks
roughly nine blocks away from the building collapse.

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