Explosion in East Harlem at 117 Street
AmNews Staff Reports | 3/12/2014, 10:48 a.m.
Stay tuned for updates
Update (11:59 a.m.): The Fire Department NY report 17 injured and two dead on arrival at hospitals as a result of the explosion. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to hold a press conference within the hour.
Residents of East Harlem heard a loud boom and saw massive amounts of smoke.
At about 9:30 a.m. there was an explosion on Park Ave. between 116 and 117 streets. One, possibly two buildings, at 1644 and 1646 Park Ave., collapsed due to the explosion. The buildings housed a Spanish Christian Church and Absolute Piano repair shop both with residential apartments above.
“I am shocked and worried,” said congressman Charlie Rangel, who represents the district, on New York 1. “It's a complicated street because the trains have become elevated in that area.”
Metro North service has been suspended in both directions because debris from the explosion landed on the tracks across the street. Buildings on the opposite side of the tracks also had their windows shattered by glass and other debris projected from the explosion almost a block away.
"Across the street, the first thing I saw, or what I heard, was 'boom,'" said one witness. "I ducked my head and I looked back up and the next thing you know, I saw all this smoke."
Senator Adriano Espaillat, the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Housing Committee, said there were 60 open violations at 1646 Park Ave and said "the infrastructure of the city needs to be looked at, long term."
Rangel says he has not yet received information about the cause of the explosion. But, witnesses say they smelled gas in the area prior to the event.
So far 11 minor injuries have been reported by the New York Fire Department.