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[Update] New York Building Collapses Kill 2, Injure 15

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NEW YORK (AP) —  New York City police say two dead, 17 hurt in building explosion, collapse.

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.

McGee says the utility dispatched two crews just after 9:15 a.m., but they arrived just after the explosion. He says the street is served by an eight-inch low-pressure gas main. He would not speculate on whether a gas leak caused the explosion.

[Update #1] An explosion in Upper Manhattan on Wednesday leveled a five-story building, sent flames and billowing black smoke above the skyline and injured 11 people.

One person with “serious trauma” was being treated at Harlem Hospital, and the hospital was expecting more injured people to arrive, said Lamarr Nelson, a hospital spokesman.

new york explosion
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Sidewalks for blocks around were littered with broken glass from shattered storefront and apartment windows. Witnesses say the blast neat Park Avenue and 116th Street was so powerful it knocked groceries off the shelves of nearby stores.

A neighboring building was severely damaged. The cause of the blast was unclear.

Police, some wearing gas masks and medical masks, handed out medical masks to residents and onlookers because of the thick white smoke that shrouded the area.

Eoin Hayes, 26, said the explosion shook his entire apartment building in Harlem at about 9:30 a.m. He ran to the window and saw flames consuming one building and smoke rising into the air.

“I was in my bedroom and the explosion went off, it kind of shook the whole building,” Hayes said. “You could feel the vibrations going through the building.”

Hayes lives less than 10 blocks from where the explosion happened. He said the fire consumed one building and then moved on to another building adjacent to it, though about 40 minutes later the flames had subsided and there was mostly just smoke. Both buildings appeared to be residential.

“I ran to the window and saw the fire and the smoke going up and the sirens start,” Hayes said.

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

The fire department said it sent nearly 170 members to the scene.

[Original Story] The New York City fire department says an East Harlem apartment building has exploded and collapsed, leading to 11 minor injuries.

WABC says residents heard a large explosion in an apartment building near Park Avenue and 116th Street around 9 a.m. Wednesday. The building was five stories and appeared to be reduced to rubble.

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

The site is adjacent to Metro-North commuter railroad tracks, not far from the northeastern tip of Central Park. Metro-North says it has halted service to and from Grand Central Terminal.

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