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New York City gas explosion destroys three apartment buildings, kills two

30 March 2015

Two bodies were found on March 29 in the rubble of the three East Village apartment buildings destroyed in a gas explosion two days earlier. Fire officials said a further 22 were injured in the blast and fire in Manhattan's East Village neighbourhood.The two dead were believed to be in a sushi restaurant in the building where the explosion occurred, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said. 

Stock image
Stock image

In all, three buildings collapsed out of four that caught fire, and 11 buildings were evacuated, leaving residents of 144 apartments homeless.

Investigators were looking into whether gas and plumbing work being done privately in one building led to the explosion, and utility Con Edison said that its utility crew found dangerous gas line connections that created a "hazardous situation" during a visit in August prompted by the smell of gas in the basement.

The utility said it shut off the building's gas for about 10 days, until it was determined to be safe.
The basement could hold the key to the cause of the devastation, police said.

The mayor said the blast was possibly tied to someone inappropriately tapping into a gas line. An hour before the blast Con Edison inspectors had been at the scene and determined that pre-existing work was not satisfactory, but the problems were not safety-related, de Blasio said.

Unauthorised gas hookups have been suspected in a number of explosions, fires and deaths, including a 2010 Detroit house fire that killed three children, a 2008 Detroit home explosion that sent five people to hospitals and a 2007 blast in a central California garage. In 1991, three people were killed and 31 injured in two Brooklyn apartment buildings after a thunderous blast from a buildup of natural gas likely caused by an illegally tapped gas line.

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