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Breaking News: Red Cross opens reception center in Harlem

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The American Red Cross has set up a Reception Center at PS 57 at 176 East 115th, between 3rd & Lex for those affected by the explosion in Harlem. The Red Cross does also have teams on the scene. Relatives can now call #311. A special hotline will be set up shortly.

At least two people were killed this morning after an explosion at 116th Street and Park Avenue. The two deceased are both women. There are also at least 18 injured. First responders are still searching for other survivors.

Two buildings were destroyed and others are heavily damaged. The buildings included residential units as well as a church and various businesses. The fire – now a five alarm fire – still rages.

“Once again we have been shown what our first responders are capable of doing,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio during a press conference.

The incident occurred at 9:30 a.m. Con Ed received a call at 9:13 a.m. reporting a gas leak. ConEd is in the process of shutting off the various gas mains going into the building.

The New York Times quoted one resident as saying her family smelled gas as early as last night but is dissipated before they left their apartment this morning.

Air quality, understandably, is poor in the area. Some responders have been seen wearing gas masks. Residents and reporters have been given face masks – like the ones used in hospitals – as well.

Thousands will be affected tonight during their evening commute as well. Debris has fallen on the tracks nearby. The Metro North line travel is suspended in and out of Grand Central Terminal until further notice. Please use alternate routes and expect delays: http://new.mta.info/mnr.

The weather tonight may also be an issue for those now left homeless by the explosion and subsequent fire. The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting rain tonight after 4 p.m. The wind is expected to increase slightly as well. About 2 a.m., the rain may change over to snow showers continuing through tomorrow morning.

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