Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pictured: Three victims of Manhattan blast identified as seven are confirmed dead and 64 injured in flattened block where residents complained about smell of gas for WEEKS An apartment building on 116th and Park Avenue in East Harlem burst into flames shortly after 9am

Positive ID: Hunter College identified Sgt Griselde Camacho, a public safety officer at the school, as one of the four fatalities in the explosion 
The latest reports said that seven people were dead and up to 64 injured following a suspected gas explosion which collapsed two buildings in Harlem
Aftermath: Rescue workers rushing to the scene of the blast shortly after the explosion in Harlem
Firefighters battle the flames and billowing smoke after a powerful explosion in East Harlem, New York City on Wednesday morning
The FDNY respond to a 5-alarm fire and building collapse at 1646 Park Ave in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan this morning
Vanished: The blast completed demolished two five-story apartment buildings
The leak was reported to ConEdison at 9.13am and crews were dispatched two minutes later but by the time they arrived, the building on the corner of 116th and Park Avenue had already burst into flames.

The 74 injured are being treated at four area hospitals, with at least two of the victims suffering from serious life-threatening injuries. Nine to 12 others are still missing, an NYPD source told the New York Daily News. 
The explosion shattered windows a block away, rained debris onto elevated commuter railroad tracks close by, cast a plume of smoke over the skyline and sent people running into the streets. 
'It felt like an earthquake had rattled my whole building,' said Waldemar Infante, a porter who was working in a basement nearby. 'There were glass shards everywhere on the ground, and all the stores had their windows blown out.' 

Carmen Tanco, 67, a dental hygienist from Harlem, has been identified as one of three fatalities

Emanuel Rivera, 24, lives on the corner of 116th and Park Avenue, across the street from the blast site. He was at home sleeping with his wife Rehanna and their two children when it happened. 

'All you heard was boom. The whole building shook. We looked outside and there was a bunch of smoke. Everything was in flames,' he said. 

Like several other neighbors, Rivera said they started smelling gas Tuesday night. 

'The smell of gas was there since yesterday night,'. 

Among the critically wounded were a woman and a 15-year-old boy, who sustained severe burns and broken bones.The woman was pulled from the debris suffering from grave neck and back injuries.

According to Hunter College, victim Griselde Camacho, a single mother, had been employed as a security officer at Hunter since 2008, receiving multiple commendations for her service. 

'We are sad to report that, in an explosion that destroyed two buildings in East Harlem this morning, we have lost a member of the Hunter family….Our hearts go out to Griselde’s family at this terrible time,' read a statement from Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab.

'We know this is a difficult time for all those who knew and worked with Sergeant Camacho, whether at the Silberman School or as part of the public safety office.

'All of you will be in our thoughts in the days ahead. We will update the community soon about plans to hold a memorial and about where to send your condolences.'

According to her cousin, News 12 Westchester cameraman Angel Vargas, hygienist Carmen Tanco, 67, was in her Park Avenue apartment when the blast went off this morning. 

When the woman did not show up for work, her family began searching for her. 

Late Wednesday night, officials named Rosaura Hernandez-Barrios as a third victim. The identity of a fourth casualty has yet to be made public. 
Bad air: New York City Police Department officers wear masks at the scene of the explosion
The devastating scene where two buildings collapsed shortly after a resident in an adjacent building called Con Edison to say she smelled gas
Firefighters work the scene of an explosion as flames leap up the towering heap of rubble
The NYPD help residents at the scene of the massive explosion in Harlem on Wednesday morning
An aerial view of the two collapsed buildings as firefighters search for survivors and battle to get the flames under control
Firefighters extinguish the fire at the site of an alleged powerful explosion in East Harlem, New York. The interior of the building is seen completely destroyed

According to police, all three named victims lived in the same building and were killed in the explosion. Miss Camacho's mother was also reportedly injured, NBC New York reported. 

Mayor de Blasio called the incident 'a tragedy of the worst kind' because 'there was no warning in advance'. 

Mr de Blasio's statements go against what many witnesses in the area have told local news stations - that an odor was noticeable in the days leading up to the blast this morning. 

However, another theory suggests that the powerful blast was the result of a water main break collapsing onto an underground gas line, according to New York Daily News.

In fact, on Wednesday night, some parts of the debris pile were inaccessible because of a sinkhole caused by a ruptured subsurface water pipe, officials said.
A man receives medical attention near the site of the explosion. Upwards of 74 people were injured in the blast
The smoking rubble of the site of a suspected building collapse in Harlem, New York City on Wednesday
Residents donned masks today as they walked near the scene of the gas explosion that caused the collapse of the building in Harlem
Rescue workers remove an injured person on a stretcher after an explosion and building collapse in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York
A man covers a child's face as he runs from a building near to the explosion in East Harlem on Wednesday morning