Two buildings in the East Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, N.Y. have been leveled down to their first floors following an explosion and five-alarm fire. Various media outlets have said the death-toll currently stands at two, both victims unidentified women, with close to two dozen others injured.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference near the scene and confirmed there remain at least 10 people unaccounted for. After more than 200 firefighters were able to bring the massive fire under control, emergency crews quickly began broader search efforts amongst the rubble in the hopes of locating the missing.
Current reports state the blast occurred just after 9:30 a.m. local time at 1644 and 1646 Park Ave., off of 116th Street. Both five-story buildings held several apartment units and businesses on the ground floor. It is speculated the explosion and subsequent fire may be the result of a gas leak.
East coast utility Consolidated Edison (ConEd) has confirmed crews had been dispatched to the area after receiving report of a suspected natural gas leak approximately fifteen minutes before the explosion. ConEd crews that arrived after the blast have been working to check for leaks after securing the area. There has been no confirmation on the cause of the incident.
“All electric and gas service has been shut down between East 116th and East 117th streets on the west side of Park Avenue, as well as on the north side of East 116th Street near Park Avenue, as crews work closely with the FDNY to make the area safe and determine the exact cause of this morning’s explosion,” ConEd said in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, according to CBS News.