There was a massive explosion and two-building collapse in East Harlem, New York City on 116th and Park Wednesday morning. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday morning that the incident was caused by a gas leak. It’s so far not exactly clear what the full extent of the damage is, or how many casualties there are. Witnesses tell The New York Times that they heard “what sounded like an explosion” before the collapse.
The collapsed building addresses are 1644 and 1646 Park Avenue, police tell the Times. “This is an occupied building, there were people living there, we have people missing,” a senior city official told the paper. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
The Times and CNN are now reporting that at least two people were killed. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said there are at least 18 injuries of varying degrees.
Mayor de Blasio is now speaking on the scene. The mayor said that at 9:30, a “major explosion” based on a gas leak destroyed two buildings. “The only indication of danger came about 15 minutes earlier when a gas leak was reported to Con Edison,” the mayor said. Con Ed is currently shutting off the gas in the area, and FDNY is working on fully putting out the fire. De Blasio called the incident a “tragedy of the worst kind,” and that there will be a search through the buildings’ rubble looking for missing people as soon as the fire is put out.
“This is going to be an extended operation,” he said.
The incident is now being classified as a five alarm fire, per the FDNY’s Twitter feed:
Ram Ramgopal, executive editor of CNN, reports that Con Edison recieved a call about a possible leak at 9:13 this morning, just before the explosion. He reports that a Con Ed truck left for the scene at 9:15, and did not arrive by the time the explosion occured.
A reporter for New York’s WCBS said that thick, black smoke was covering the scene.
The Harlem building is the site of a piano repair shop, called the Piano Store, which houses apartments above it. A second building that collapsed houses a church, reports CBS New York. At least one resident who lives blocks away reported that her apartment shook with the building explosion. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
The first call about a possible collapse came in at 9:31 this morning, reports the New York Daily News. Metro-North rail service is currently suspended to and from New York City. The rail’s 125th Street stop is near the scene. A photo from the FDNY, posted to Twitter. (FDNY)
A report on Twiter from Daily & Sunday Mirror‘s Christopher Bucktin suggests that “several Harlem buildings” have been destroyed. The FDNY told NBC that no one has been transported from the scene. A screenshot from Bloomberg TV of the scene in Harlem. (Twitter/@evanchill)
The FDNY says via Twitter that there are 39 units and 168 members on the scene.
Here’s a map of where this is taking place in New York:
The photo at the top of this post comes from this tweet.
We’ll keep you updated here.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the address of the Harlem Metro-North stop.