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Gas explosion in Manhattan, 7 dead, multiple injuries and many still missing

Smoke pours after an explosion, a fire and two buildings collapse in a Park Avenue/Harlem neighborhood on March 12, 2014.
Smoke pours after an explosion, a fire and two buildings collapse in a Park Avenue/Harlem neighborhood on March 12, 2014.
Andrew Burton—Getty Images

In an East Harlem neighborhood yesterday a gas explosion leveled two buildings. Seven people are confirmed dead, and more casualties are expected. Trained professionals and volunteers are searching through the rubble for any sign of life, and the scene looks as if a bomb went off.

There are 65 confirmed injuries, and those numbers are rising as well.

Five people are still missing in the aftermath of yesterdays horrific events, and a hotline has been set up for loved ones to call. Alternatively people can also call 311 for information.

Bill de Blasio, New York City Mayor was very emotional when he made his live statement. He confirmed a gas leak was to blame for the explosion, and that the "smell of gas" had been reported 15 minutes before the explosion took place. The gas company had not yet arrived on the scene when the events unfolded.

Mayor de Blasio also said that the explosion had a “very heavy impact on the surrounding buildings.” He went on to say that “this is a tragedy of the worst kind, because there was no indication in time to save people.”

Rescuers are pulling lifeless bodies from the rubble of the 6 story buildings. They are dealing with "a mountain of debris."

A sinkhole due to the water and the water pockets created from battling the 5 alarm fire and a water-main that broke when the buildings came down are hindering rescuers efforts to get people out.

De Blasio said "rescue teams would be searching through the rubble of the building for survivors; Those who are missing could well be safe in another location and there’s a tremendous amount of anxiety, but suffice it to say that every effort is being expended to locate each and every one of these individuals.”

One neighborhood resident reports that the Fire Department was contacted weeks ago, and the landlord was contacted again on Tuesday about an “unbearable smell of gas fumes.”

One victim of yesterdays explosion has been identified as Hunter College as Griselde Camacho. He was an employee there working as a public safety officer. Another victim was identified as Carmen Tanco, 67.

Several of the injured are listed in critical condition, one of which is a 15 year old young man.

A temporary shelter is in place at a nearby school for the Red Cross at PS 57 on 115th and Lexington.

An estimated 100 people have been displaced due to the explosion.