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One dead and 27 hospitalised after suspected carbon monoxide leak at a New York mall

Emergency services staff were among those who were overcome by the gas

A 55-year-old restaurant manager died and 27 other people in a New York mall were hospitalised after they were exposed to carbon monoxide on Saturday.

Suffolk County police identified the man who died as Steven Nelson, a manager at the Legal Sea Foods restaurant at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station on Long Island, 35 miles (56 kilometres) east of New York City.

Four ambulance crew members and three officers were among those overcome by carbon monoxide at the complex, when they responded to a call shortly after 6 pm, police said.

The restaurant is located in a building detached from the main mall, which has remained open.

WABC-TV reported that all but a handful of patients had since been treated and released.

Police Lieutenant Jack Fitzpatrick said they had been called to deal with a woman who had fallen in the basement of the Legal Sea Foods outlet.

He said that when rescue workers arrived at the scene they started to feel lightheaded and nauseated, and suspected a carbon monoxide leak.

The woman who fell was taken to Huntington Hospital, as was Nelson, who was pronounced dead. There was no immediate word on the woman's condition.

Fitzpatrick said all of those affected by the fumes were restaurant employees, police or ambulance workers. He said the leak appeared to originate with the heating system.

“Right now, we are inspecting the heating system, and this incident seems to be confined to the basement area. It does not appear to have made it in the area of the restaurant where the customers were,” he said.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and can lead to death by suffocation.

The Legal Sea Foods restaurant, and two others, Panera and a Cheesecake Factory outlet, were evacuated as a precaution.

The Walt Whitman Shops consists of more than 80 stores, including anchors Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Additional reporting by AP