At least two killed in East Harlem building collapse


New York:  At least two people were killed when two buildings collapsed in East Harlem on Wednesday, according to authorities, and a senior city official suggested that there would most likely be more fatalities.

Witnesses reported hearing what sounded like an explosion before the buildings collapsed. Flames and smoke could be seen billowing from the street, and the force of the damage blew out windows in neighboring buildings.

At least 16 people were injured, including four seriously, according to city officials. The police said that two residential buildings had collapsed.

“This is an occupied building, there were people living there, we have people missing,” the senior official said. “There was a complete collapse; the fire is still going so we can’t make a search. There will be fatalities.”

The Fire Department said it received the first report at 9:31 a.m. and was still working to determine the cause.

Elizabeth Matthews, a spokeswoman for the Consolidated Edison utility, said that a report from someone claiming to smell a heavy gas odor came in at 9:13 a.m. The person reported smelling gas in her apartment but noted that it could have come from outside.

At 9:15 a.m. two Con Edison crews were dispatched and they arrived just after the explosion.

The two collapsed buildings were five stories, with at least a dozen apartments between the two of them. They were about 55 feet tall, according to Buildings Department records….

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