There’s Been an Explosion and Building Collapse in New York City

Two buildings collapsed in Harlem Wednesday morning due to an explosion caused by a gas leak.

Firefighters from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) respond 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.
National Journal
Matt Berman
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Matt Berman
March 12, 2014, 6:07 a.m.

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.

Matt VasilogambrosElahe Izad contributed to this article.
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