A powerful explosion in New York City’s East Village on Thursday caused two apartment buildings to collapse and burst into flames and two others to catch fire, injuring 12 people.
Preliminary evidence indicated it was a gas-related explosion, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, adding that private gas and plumbing repair work had been going on in one of the buildings.
The explosion, which occurred shortly after 3 p.m., rocked the residential area, Reuters reported, citing witnesses. As flames leaped into the sky, bloodied victims ran from the buildings and collapsed on the street.
Three people were critically injured, the report said.
De Blasio said utility inspectors had been on the scene about an hour before the explosion and found the work did not pass inspection.
The blast caused two buildings to collapse, including the one where the explosion occurred, he said. Two adjacent buildings caught fire, he added.
Firefighters were still fighting a blaze in one of the adjacent buildings, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told the late afternoon news conference.
“That building is in danger of possible collapse,” Nigro said. “We will be here for a very long night.”
The Fire Department declared it a seven-alarm blaze.
Two people suffered burns to their airways, Nigro said.
The buildings on Second Avenue at East Seventh Street are in Manhattan’s East Village, a neighborhood of small businesses, restaurants and apartments, the news agency said.
The four buildings contain at least 40 apartments, according to online real estate sites. The ground floors were occupied by small eateries.
A relocation center for residents displaced by the blast and fire was set up in a nearby elementary school, officials said.
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