Monday, 17 March 2014

Gas Pipes Under Scrutiny After New York Blast

New York emergency crews say investigations into the cause of a gas explosion that brought down two apartment buildings can get under way following significant progress clearing rubble from the site.

Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said investigators hoped to reach the gas pipes in the underground area of the collapsed buildings on Sunday.

Investigators have been waiting to access the buildings' basements to inspect possible ignition sources that might have caused the blast.

On Saturday New York City Fire Department spokesman Michael Parrella said mild weather had helped crews make "significant headway" clearing the debris from the site.

He said the "majority" of rubble had now been removed.

New York City firefighters dig through rubble of a building explosion and collapse in the Harlem section of New York The buildings housed 15 apartments, a ground-floor church and a piano shop

Eight people were killed and dozens injured on Wednesday when the gas explosion levelled two five-story apartment buildings in East Harlem.

They fell just minutes after a resident in the area called 911 to report the smell of gas.

Witnesses said the impact of the collapse could be felt up to a mile away.

The bodies of all eight victims, five women and three men, have now been recovered.

Six of the victims have so far been identified.

Harlem explosion victims Carmen Tanco and Griselde Comacho Carmen Tanco (L) and Griselde Comacho died in the blast

They include Griselde Camacho, a 45-year-old school security officer, and 67-year-old Carmen Tanco, a dental hygienist.

Mexican officials in Puebla named two other victims as Rosaura Barrios Vazquez, 43, and 22-year-old Rosaura Hernandez Barrios.

There are not thought to have been any other fatalities.

During a tour of the site New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged support for around 50 families displaced by the blast.

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