There are now
seven eight confirmed deaths and at least 60 injured by a gas explosion that caused two buildings in East Harlem, 1644 and 1646 Park Avenue, to collapse yesterday morning. However, that number could rise higher as the search for nine missing people continues. (Update: it has. An eighth body was found Thursday night.)
As of Wednesday evening, police reported six killed, but a seventh victim was reportedly found by rescue workers early this morning:
BREAKING: 7th victim pulled from rubble in East Harlem— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) March 13, 2014
A team of National Transportation Safety Board investigators has been dispatched to the scene and will focus on figuring out the role of Con Edison, which manages the gas line in Manhattan, in the disaster. They were reportedly called to the scene to investigate a gas leak, but had not yet arrived when the explosion happened.
"We want to find out not only what happened, but we want to find out why it happened . . . to make sure something like this never happens again," said NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt, adding "We will be looking at Con Edison . . . their integrity management system, seeing how they handled complaints . . . oversight of Con Edison by federal and state officials."
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio described the event yesterday as "a tragedy of the worst kind because there was no indication in time to save people." He also said that "There's a tremendous amount of anxiety, but suffice it to say, every effort is being made to locate these [missing] individuals." Rescue workers continue to search through the rubble in hopes of finding those residents unaccounted for, a process that the mayor warns "will take quite a bit of time."