‘This is a tragedy of the worst kind,’ Mayor Bill de Blasio says
An explosion followed by a fire at a pair of apartment buildings in upper Manhattan on Wednesday has left two people dead and at least 18 injured, officials say.
According to ABC’s New York affiliate, at least one of those injured experienced “heavy trauma.” The conditions of the others were not immediately known.
The FDNY said it received a call shortly after 9:30 a.m. reporting a large explosion in the five-story apartment building on Park Avenue near 116th Street in East Harlem.
“This is a tragedy of the worst kind,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference. “There was no indication in time to save people.”
[Slideshow: Photos from the scene]
Based on preliminary information, the mayor said “the only indication of danger came about 15 minutes earlier when a gas leak was reported to Con Edison. Con Ed dispatched a team to respond. The explosion occurred before that team could arrive.”
“There are a number of people missing,” de Blasio added. “I emphasize that those who are missing could well be safe in another location and just not contacted yet or reachable yet.”
The fire department confirmed that the explosion involved multiple buildings, and escalated the response to five alarms, with 44 units and more than 200 firefighters responding. According to public records, the address that firefighters initially reponded to — 1646 Park Ave. — was built in 1910.
Reached by phone, an employee of the man who owns the building told Yahoo News that she didn’t know what might have sparked the blast. The five-story building is home to four floors of apartments and Absolute Piano on the street level. The employee said everyone at the piano shop was safe.
According to public records, the neighboring building — 1646 Park Ave. — is home to apartments and the street-level Spanish Christian Church.