7 killed as 2 NY apartment blocks collapse in blast
TWO New York City apartment buildings collapsed on Wednesday in an explosion apparently caused by a gas leak, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 40, with several more victims feared trapped in the rubble, officials said.
The blast, which scattered debris across nearby rooftops, brought down the adjoining five-storey buildings, with a total of 15 apartments, at about 9.30am (9.30pm Singapore time) on a largely residential Upper Manhattan block at East 116th Street and Park Avenue.
Clouds of thick smoke billowed from the rubble of the apartment houses that had sat above a ground-level church and a piano store in a largely Latino working-class neighbourhood.
Pockets of fire and heat smouldered inside the mounds of debris for many hours after the blasts, complicating search-and-rescue operations that continued under floodlights through the night, city Fire Department spokesman Michael Parrella said.
He said city officials estimated that nine people were still missing as of midnight.
A police spokesman said five people remained unaccounted for early yesterday morning.