A suspected gas explosion in East Harlem topples apartment buildings Wednesday morning killing at least seven and wounded more than 64 others. Investigators believe the cause may have been a collapsed water-pipe, possibly busting the streets gas line. Fire fighters are still busy searching through debris for additional information. Many survivors have been hospitalized. Nearly 70 people including several children have been admitted to local Hospitals for injuries, some in critical condition.
ABC news station WABC has reported that at least two women killed in the blast have been identified. One of the deceased, Griselde Camacho was a public safety officer working at Hunter College. Another women Carmen Santo has also been confirmed dead from the explosion.
FBI investigators were on the scene and have been reported as saying, so far there is nothing to indicate any crime or acts of terror at this time. However Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York has said there will be a continued search once the fire has been completely extinguished and investigators can safely proceed.
More than 250 firefighters responded to the incident battling flames and smoke clouds that have enveloped the area just twenty minutes after neighbors phoned in complaints of a strong gas like odor. The first call was made at 9:13am by a resident of the building, then shortly after, a much more disturbing 911 call was made reporting what appears to be a massive gas explosion. According to utility officials, the area near the the explosion site is fed by an 8-inch gas main.
Investigators are still unsure of the final death toll, stating some resident are still unaccounted for at this time. Residents of the building who were not directly hit by the blast complained of being awakened by a thunderous sound which some have described as reminiscent of the cities’ daunting past of 911.
The Mayor has expressed adamantly that they will exhaust every effort possible to locate loved ones who are unaccounted for. So far nine individuals are still reported as missing, however no conclusions are being made until further investigation unfolds new evidence. Rescue K-9 dogs have been involved in the search and so far no additional bodies have been discovered which officials are saying “is a good thing.” Mayor de Blasio has said he is still not aware of any foul play at this time.
The explosion affected two buildings which contained 15 residential units, there were nine apartments in one building and six in the other. Injuries of the victims have been reported as ranging from smoke inhalation, burns, and glass injuries from the blast as well as other concussion related trauma. Fire commissioner Sal Cassano stated firefighters were on the scene just two minutes after the 911 call was made reporting the suspected gas explosion.
Natural gas as it is provided to the consumer has a very unpleasant smell, unlike in it’s natural odorless state, this intentional foul smell is caused by an added chemical compound mercaptan to serve that very smelly purpose, so that a leak may be more easily detected in order to prevent build up that might result in a gas explosion like the one residents in Manhattans’ East Harlem neighborhood may have witnessed on Wednesday. The gas company, Consolidated Edison has reported that the call made from a resident who was complaining of smelling the odor since Tuesday night, unfortunately was not made until 20 minutes before the devastating blast occurred and no time was left to prevent this horrific incident from taking place, leaving several lives lost and many others in chaos.
By, Aaron Thompson