East Harlem 'explosion': Seven dead and more than 40 injured in Manhattan building collapse in NYC

A number of residents are still thought to be trapped among the rubble of two collapsed apartment buildings following a major gas explosion

At least seven people are dead and more than 40 injured after two apartment buildings in East Harlem partially collapsed following a massive gas explosion on Wednesday.

A seventh body was found among the rubble in the early hours of this morning, New York Fire Department spokesman Danny Glover said, as rescue workers battled against strong winds, freezing temperatures and thick acrid air.

The “major explosion”, which shattered windows a block away and scattered debris onto commuter railroad tracks, brought down the adjoining five-story buildings, with a total of 15 apartments, at about 9.30 am on a largely residential Upper Manhattan block at East 116th Street and Park Avenue.

Two women were confirmed early in the day as having been killed, and the body of a third woman was found in the rubble later in the day, police said. Search teams pulled the body of a fourth victim from the site late Wednesday night, fire department spokesman Khalid Baylor said. The fifth body of an adult female was found in the early hours of this morning.

A sixth fatality was confirmed by New York City police when the body of an adult male was discovered shortly after.

Fire Department spokesman Michael Parrella said several people were still missing as of midnight. A city police spokesman put the number of apartment residents who remained unaccounted for at about five.

Some parts of the debris pile were inaccessible because of a sinkhole caused by a subsurface water main break, officials said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference that the gas leak had been reported to the utility company just 15 minutes before the blast.

A resident from a building next to the two that collapsed reported that he smelled gas inside his apartment, but thought the odour could be coming from outside, Bob McGee, a spokesman for the utility company Con Edison, said.

He said the utility company dispatched two crews just after 9.15 am but they arrived after the explosion.

Witnesses, many travelling to work and some still in their apartments, said they had heard a very loud blast from where the apartment building once stood.

"I heard a big explosion. Boom!" Aisha Watts, who lives in the building next door, said.

"The walls started crumbling down. The windows were gone," Ms Watts said. The mother-of-three had to be rescued by a neighbour who kicked down the jammed door to her home.

"This is a tragedy because there was no time to warn people ahead of time," Mr de Blasio said. "We are expending every effort to locate each and every loved one."

At least three of the injured are children, and a 15-year-old boy remains in a critical condition with burns, broken bones and internal injuries. The majority of injuries were minor and included cuts and scrapes.

President Barack Obama sent condolences to the victim’s families after being briefed on the collapse.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by this incident," the White House said in a statement.

Additional reporting by Reuters and The Associated Press

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on