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7 dead in East Harlem explosion, 9 still missing

Posted by Joseph Dussault  March 12, 2014 03:08 AM

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Authorities are still searching for victims at the scene of an apparent gas explosion in East Harlem that left at least 7 people dead and over 20 injured, The New York Times reports. An update from the New York City's mayor indicated that nine people remain missing.

After the explosion, which registered on seismographs in the region, two buildings northeast of Central Park collapsed.

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Mike Segar/Reuters

Piano technician Colin Patterson, who lived and worked in the building, recalled to the Daily Beast how he emerged uninjured from the rubble and shouted, "I'm a miracle!":

He said he was about to get dressed in his first floor apartment at the back of Absolute Piano when a thunderous blast tore through the building. Debris began raining down and he gave no thought to grabbing his wallet or cell phone as he fled. The store that had been his home and workshop for 10 years had suddenly become a place of all but certain death.

The New York Daily News provided drone footage of the scene:

According to the officials, a five-alarm fire that was raging on the scene is now under control.

In New York City, procedure calls for 44 units and 198 firefighters for a five alarm fire, Slate reports.

The Associated Press reports:

The FDNY says the reports came in from around Park Avenue between 114th and 117th streets. The site is near Metro-North commuter railroad tracks, off the northeastern tip of Central Park.

According to New York's CBS affiliate:

It happened around 9 a.m. on Park Avenue on 116th Street, the FDNY said. One of the buildings that collapsed had a piano repair shop with apartments above. The second building housed a church.

WABC reports:

Smoke poured from the top of the buildings, and huge amounts of debris littered the surrounding sidewalks and elevated tracks in the area. Thick smoke blankets the area like fog, and residents were urged to stay indoors and keep windows closed.

According to the MTA, all Metro-North train service in and out of Grand Central Station has been "suspended indefinitely."

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Eric Thayer/Reuters

Con Edison confirmed that a crew had been dispatched to investigate a reported gas leak at the site.

WPIX provided a picture of the buildings prior to the collapse:

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