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.   (AP Photo/WABC-TV)
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.   (AP Photo/WABC-TV)
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.   (AP Photo/WABC-TV)
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.   (AP Photo/WABC-TV)
Rescue workers remove an injured person.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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.   (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.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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.   (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.   (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.   (AP Photo/Jeremy Sailing)
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