New York City explosion: Two people missing – one man has not been seen since lunch date with colleague at sushi restaurant right before blast

Nicholas Figueroa has been missing since the moments after he paid for lunch

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The Independent US

Two men are currently missing after a suspected gas explosion in New York. One has not been seen or heard from since he went on a lunch date with a co-worker at a restaurant in the building where the incident occurred.

Four buildings were engulfed in flames – of which two also partly collapsed – around 3.20pm local time yesterday after plumbing works were being carried out. Nineteen people were injured, four of which are in critical condition.

Nicholas Figueroa, 23, finished having lunch with a female colleague at Sushi Park – situated at the base of one of the East Village buildings – and had just paid for their meal. He has not been seen or heard from since, The New York Times reported.

The other man, named Moises Lucon, was working at the restaurant. No further information about him has been released.

 

Mr Figueroa’s co-worker suffered a broken nose and had been unconscious after the blast. She only remembered that she had gone to the restaurant at 121 Second Avenue with Mr Figueroa when questioned at Bellevue Hospital about what had happened.

A $13.04 debit card transaction from Mr Figueroa’s bank statement shows that he paid for their meals right before the blast. His brother Tyler, 19, said he is still missing after the family had searched hospitals and contacted the police for help.

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Four buildings were on fire and two of them had collapsed

“My father is not stable, because he’s crying so much,” Tyler said, according to The New York Times. “The police said that they’re looking into it, but we just want to know how this could’ve happened.”

Mr Figueroa and his co-worker are reported to have both worked at Bowlmor Lanes on Manhattan’s Chelsea Pier, not more than half a mile (just less than a kilometre) away from the site of the explosion.

Six people were initially reported as missing since last night with four of them having been found so far.

Preliminary reports indicate the explosion was caused by a gas leak while plumbing works were going on in the buildings – which consist of restaurants at street level and apartments on upper floors.

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Nicholas Figueroa was with a female co-worker at Sushi Park before the suspected gas blast

Around 250 firefighters were called to battle with the seven-alarm blaze. Residents of upstairs apartments in five buildings have been unable to return home. Around 55 adults and one child stayed at a Red Cross shelter at a nearby school last night.

A plumber was doing work connected to a gas service upgrade in the building, and inspectors for utility company Con Edison had been there, company President Craig Ivey said. Despite preliminary reports, the firm claims there had been no leaks.

The company said yesterday in a statement: “Con Edison personnel were at the location to evaluate work the building plumber was doing inside 121 2nd Ave. in connection with a gas service upgrade.

“The work failed our inspection for several reasons, including insufficient spacing for the installation of the meter in the basement.

“We had no reports of gas odours in the area prior to the fire and explosion. A survey conducted yesterday of the gas mains on the block found no leaks.”

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