(NEW YORK) — Four people were killed and at least 27 were injured Wednesday when a suspected gas explosion tore through adjoining buildings in Manhattan’s East Harlem neighborhood.
“This is a tragedy of the worst kind because there was no indication in time to save people,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference.
Two of the four victims have been identified: Sgt. Griselde Camacho, a public safety officer at Hunter College; and 67-year-old Carmen Tanco, a dental hygienist. One person who was pulled from the rubble later died.
In addition to the four killed, two people had life-threatening injuries, five more had serious but not life-threatening injuries, and the others had minor injuries. Nine people are still unaccounted for, according to the New York Fire Department.
A New York City official said the casualty “numbers are going to change.”
Residents at the building at 116th Street and Park Avenue reported hearing a loud explosion around 9:30 a.m. The first 911 call came in at 9:31 a.m. and firefighters were on the scene two minutes later, Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano said.
Con Edison was responding to a report of a gas odor at 1652 Park Ave., officials said. The call came in at 9:13 a.m. from a resident of that building who indicated the odor may have been coming from outside the building. Two Con Edison crews were dispatched at 9:15 a.m., officials said, noting they arrived just after the explosion occurred. The street is served by an eight-inch low-pressure gas main, utility officials said. There were a total of 15 residential units in the two buildings.
There is “no indications of foul play,” de Blasio said.
Google images of the building show two commercial storefronts on the ground floor with residential apartments above those storefronts.
Shattered windows in nearby shopfronts show the extent of the explosion, which was apparently caused by a gas leak, according to ABC station WABC.
Over 250 firefighters were at the scene, as well as dozens of pieces of equipment to clear the rubble.
“We are expending every effort to locate each and every loved one,” de Blasio said.
Any relatives who are looking for info about their loved ones can call the Unified Victim Identification System at 311, officials said.
Residents in the area have posted pictures of the building on social media.
Service was restored to all four Metro-North lines by Wednesday evening.
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