Three buildings have collapsed in New York City leaving at least 19 injured, following a suspected gas explosion. The incident happened just after 3.15pm EST on Thursday, as gas work was taking place at a Sushi restaurant. The explosion in the East Village affected buildings 119, 121, 123 and 125 on 2nd Avenue leading to 121 and 123 to collapse, a third collapsed overnight.
Hundreds of firefighters and first responders attended the scene as the area was evacuated. A Red Cross site has now been established for residents of the buildings and those evacuated to attend. The buildings housed both businesses and residental.
The New York Fire Department have remained at the scene through the night. They tweeted to say there were more than 250 FDNY personnel at the East Village fire. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the Fire Department for their quick response. Hazmat health teams were deployed to the scene as a precaution and residents were told to keep their windows shut due to the intensity of the smoke.
Speaking at the scene on Thursday, Mayor de Blasio said: "Our thoughts and our prayers are with every one of them and their families. And, of course, we are praying that no other individuals are found injured and that there are no fatalities, but that is an ongoing effort that FDNY and all other first responders are involved in."
Dan Nigro, FDNY Commissioner, confirmed that there was work going on in the building at the time, leading to a possible cause of the explosion and fire being gas related. He added that a number of people "self-evacuated." If anyone is concerned that a person is missing they are urged to call 311.
Con Ed, a national utility company in America, confirmed they were at the premises just 1 hour before the explosion. Con Ed President Craig Ivey said: "We were at the building earlier today - 2 pm approximately, preliminarily. We were evaluating the meter installation for a new service that was going to be installed in the building. There was also a second existing service there."