NYC building explodes, 11 minor injuries reported

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014


NEW YORK -- An explosion Wednesday leveled a five-story New York City residential building, shooting flames and billowing black smoke above the skyline. Eleven people were injured.

One person with "serious trauma" was being treated at a nearby hospital, and more injured people were expected, said Lamarr Nelson, a hospital spokesman.

Sidewalks for blocks around the building in Harlem were littered with broken glass from shattered storefront and apartment windows. Witnesses say the blast was so powerful it knocked groceries off the shelves of nearby stores.

A neighboring building was severely damaged. The cause of the blast was unclear.

Police, some wearing gas and medical masks, handed out medical masks to residents and onlookers because of the thick white smoke that shrouded the area.

Eoin Hayes, 26, said he heard the explosion at about 9:30 a.m., ran to the window and saw flames consuming one building and smoke rising into the air.

"I was in my bedroom and the explosion went off, it kind of shook the whole building," Hayes said. "You could feel the vibrations going through the building."

Hayes said the fire consumed one building and then moved to the one next to it. Both buildings appeared to be residential.

The explosion occurred very close to elevated Metro-North commuter railroad tracks. Train service was suspended to and from Grand Central on all three train lines while employees remove debris from the tracks.

The fire department said it sent nearly 170 members to the scene. (AP)

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