New York Buildings Collapse in Possible Gas Blast, 19 Hurt
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Four apartment buildings in New York's East Village neighborhood caught fire from an apparent gas explosion on Thursday and three collapsed, injuring 19 people, authorities said.
The blast shortly after 3 pm sent flames leaping into the sky and rocked the residential area in Manhattan. Bloodied victims ran from the buildings, collapsing on the street, witnesses said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference that preliminary evidence indicated it was a gas-related explosion.
A Fire Department spokesman said late on Thursday that three of the four buildings had collapsed or partially collapsed.
The fourth building "is still involved with some pockets of fire, it's still an active scene. Investigation is still ongoing," he said.
Nineteen people were hurt. Four, all civilians, were in critical condition, the spokesman said.
A New York police spokesman there were no reports of anyone missing, Reuters reported.
The Con Edison (ED.N) utility said in a statement that its inspectors had been at the site on Thursday to evaluate work a building plumber was doing in a building for a gas service upgrade. The work failed to pass inspection, it said.
The seven-alarm blaze in the neighborhood of small businesses, restaurants and apartments involved more than 250 Fire Department personnel.
Moishe Perl, 64, who owns Moishe’s Bake Shop nearby, said he heard an explosion, ran outside and saw the lower floors of a building start to crumble.
"Most of the people were running out of the building and climbing down the fire escape," he said, while others were helped out of windows by passersby.
Ben Mackinnon, 28, said he was drinking coffee in a cafe when he heard an explosion from across the street.