Gas Leak Blamed in Harlem Blast That Killed 2

Toll mounts as 2 buildings collapse

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Mar 12, 2014 9:27 AM CDT | Updated Mar 12, 2014 11:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – Two people are now dead after an explosion brought down two apartment buildings in East Harlem this morning, and Mayor Bill de Blasio is confirming that a gas leak is to blame. At least 18 more are injured. A utility company says a resident in a nearby building reported smelling gas shortly before the explosion at 1644-1646 Park Ave. Con Ed dispatched two crews about 9:15am, but they got there too late. What's worse, the toll could rise: “This is an occupied building," a city official tells the New York Times. "There were people living there; we have people missing."

In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.   (AP Photo/WABC-TV)
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.   (AP Photo/WABC-TV)
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.   (AP Photo/WABC-TV)
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.   (AP Photo/WABC-TV)
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.   (AP Photo/WABC-TV)
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.   (AP Photo/WABC-TV)
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.
In this image taken from video from WABC, firefighters battle the fire in East Harlem.   (AP Photo/WABC-TV)
Rescue workers remove an injured person.
Rescue workers remove an injured person.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Firefighters respond to the fire on 116th Street in Harlem.
Firefighters respond to the fire on 116th Street in Harlem.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A man receives medical attention after an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem, New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.
A man receives medical attention after an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem, New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Mayor Bill de Blasio arrives at the site of an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem, New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.
Mayor Bill de Blasio arrives at the site of an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem, New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Firefighters respond to an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in the East Harlem, New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.
Firefighters respond to an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in the East Harlem, New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Firefighters respond after an explosion and building collapse in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.
Firefighters respond after an explosion and building collapse in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Police respond to the scene of an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem, New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.
Police respond to the scene of an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem, New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.   (AP Photo/Jeremy Sailing)
Firefighters work the scene of an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem, New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.
Firefighters work the scene of an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem, New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014.   (AP Photo/Jeremy Sailing)
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