The bodies of two missing men are believed to have been found in the debris of collapsed Manhattan apartment buildings, days after a gas leak caused an explosion in the city’s East Village neighbourhood.
The two men, Moises Lucon and Nicholas Figueroa, are thought to have been inside the ground-floor sushi restaurant when the explosion occurred on Thursday afternoon. The two were the only people reported missing in the days after the explosion, meaning that workers likely will not find more casualties.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that investigators think the explosion – which set off a massive fire that levelled three buildings and damaged a fourth – was caused by improper tapping of a gas line.
Inspectors from local utility company Con Edison last August found that the gas line into the restaurant has been improperly tapped and shut off the gas for 10 days, while it was repaired. Gas was restored after the utility company declared it safe, the Associated Press reported.
Midtown NYC now, wreathed in fog & smoke from bldg explosion downtown, as viewed from 1 World Trade Center pic.twitter.com/k6raVoVAoAhyphen; David Friend (@DavidMFriend1) March 26, 2015
But inspectors had been at the site of the explosion an hour before the blast, and locked the line to make sure it would not be used. The restaurant’s owner smelled gas shortly after and called the landlord, who called a contractor.
When the contractor arrived to inspect is when the explosion happened, according to reports.
Workers are still clearing the rubble left behind by the blast and subsequent fire. Once they are able to access the basement where the explosion occurred, they will get a clearer idea of what exactly caused the blast.
Other than the two who were killed, the explosion injured 22, including four people who were critically hurt.
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