Hundreds of New York City firefighters descended on East Harlem in New York on Wednesday morning, where two buildings reportedly collapsed following a possible gas explosion, and then burst into flames. The incident happened shortly before 10 a.m. on 116th Street and Park Ave., just feet away from the overground Metro North train lines.
Mayor Bill De Blasio held a brief conference at around noon on Wednesday and said that a gas leak had been reported 15 minutes before the explosion. He also said that there were still individuals missing and that it would take time to assess and piece together how today's collapse happened.
According to the Department on Buildings, work on the gas line was scheduled at 1644 Park Avenue (one of the affected buildings) for last summer, and one of the buildings involved was peppered with violations.
Here are a few photos of the scene, which looks not unlike a disaster movie:
Picture of the possible building collapse in Harlem: pic.twitter.com/tS3L10w1Lp— financial acrobat (@finansakrobat) March 12, 2014
And one more:
Major fires being extinguished at the scene, crews and teams everywhere working to stop it. pic.twitter.com/0sP9iaDd6W— Adnan Islam (@orangeadnan) March 12, 2014
Here's one from the fire department:
Two of the buildings directly affected are reportedly a church and a piano store, both which have apartments above them. It's unclear where the collapse originated, or how many people were inside:
This shot shows the building on the right of Absolute Piano with its windows blown out:
Another Exclusive photo showing windows blown out of building explosion in Harlem. pic.twitter.com/3gKFLv0uli— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) March 12, 2014
There are reports of some injured being transported to hospitals, and up to 16 people may have been injured. Their conditions range from minor injuries to serious trauma. USA Today is now reporting that there are seven confirmed casualties. Metro North was suspending service in the area while first responders continue to assess the damage. We'll keep this post updated as new details come in.