3 Dead, Several Missing After Explosion Levels Buildings In East Harlem
Gas Leak Reported Just Before Blast That Also Left At Least 70 Injured
Mar. 12 2014
Three people are dead and at least nine people are missing after a massive explosion rocked East Harlem Wednesday morning, leveling two buildings and sending smoke and flames billowing into the air.
At least 70 others were also injured in the blast, which happened at 9:31 a.m. Wednesday on Park Avenue at 116th Street, 1010 WINS reported.
The explosion reduced two five-story buildings to rubble. It also shattered store windows for blocks and hurled glass, bricks and other debris throughout the neighborhood.
The explosion and building collapse were so strong it generated weak seismic signals that were recorded at seismographic stations in New York City, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said.
Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network is a regional center for the Advanced National Seismic System.
The seismic waves were recorded at both the Central Park station and the Fordham University station in the Bronx at 9:31 a.m.
Witnesses said the explosion could be heard 40 blocks away.
“I came out, looked up and a building was just gone,” witness Mack Mayor said. “It’s just like a war zone out here.”
“Like a bomb, an explosion. Very loud. It scared the daylights out of me,” East Harlem resident Wilfredo Cruz told CBS 2′s Don Champion.
“I was sleeping in my bed and all of a sudden something blew up and the bed started shaking, the floor. And I said ‘what is this,’ I thought the world was coming to an end,” said East Harlem resident Robert Santiago.
“The smoke started to rise. It looked like something fell because it wasn’t like a fire. It just looked like debris smoke, similar to 9/11,” said witness Samuel Paul, who was on the 15th floor of a building on 125th Street.
More than 250 firefighters responded to the scene. By 5 p.m. the flames had mostly been knocked down.
The mayor’s office said nine occupants of the building remain unaccounted for, according to Fire Marshals and the NYPD.
Searches of the street have been completed and did not produce any additional victims, the mayor’s office said.