Published On: Tue, Mar 18th, 2014


A thunderous explosion flattened two East Harlem apartment buildings Wednesday as utility workers were on their way to investigate a report of a gas leak, killing at least two people, injuring more than 20 and leaving over a dozen others unaccounted for.

The fiery blast rocked the neighborhood about 9.30 am, shattering windows a block away, hurling debris onto elevated commuter railroad tracks close by, and sending a plume of smoke over the skyline.

People went running into the streets, and the two five-story buildings on Park Avenue at 116th Street, near the northeastern corner of Central Park, were reduced to a burning heap of bricks and metal.

Four hours after the blast, firefighters were still dousing the flames with water, and rescue workers had yet to venture into the debris to search for victims.

The neighborhood was brought to 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.

Maybe the explosion was due to gas leakage and subsequent fire in the building. All trains to and from Grand Central Terminal has been on hold.

Relief and rescue work is continuing and tried to extinguish the fire. Because of fire around the area is filled with smoke, too. An eyewitness – “Building voices and understanding until we find something around the building collapsed and the smoke was just smoke.”

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