Explosion shakes up country

GlimmerGlass editors covered the East Harlem explosion in New York City, N.Y. last week. The blast, which has left eight dead and more than 60 people injured, occurred on Mar. 12. Investigators have confirmed it was caused by a gas leak.

Investigators locate leak in gas main

By Nicole Lafond

They may have never met, but Francisco Bonivia called East Harlem explosion victim, George Amadeo, his friend.

“We saw each other all the time. He walked his dog every day and we would say hello. He was my friend, even if I didn’t know his name,” Bonivia, a resident of East Harlem who lives on the fourth floor of the building next to site of the explosion, said.

Firefighters and police officers work to continue to clear debris at the scene of the East Harlem explosion. Nearly four blocks surrounding the blast are taped off with police tape, forcing residents to find alternative routes to local businesses and their homes.
Firefighters and police officers work to continue to clear debris at the scene of the East Harlem explosion. Nearly four blocks surrounding the blast are taped off with police tape, forcing residents to find alternative routes to local businesses and their homes.

The explosion occurred in the morning on Mar. 12 shortly after a local reported smelling gas in a nearby building. The blast collapsed two, five-story buildings that housed a church, a piano store and an apartment complex. Glass, bricks and debris still cluttered the streets several days afterward.

Eight people were killed in the blast and more than 60 were injured. Victims include Amadeo, who died attempting to save his dog, Griselde Camacho, Carmen Tanco, Andreas Panagopoulos, Rosaura Barrios, Rosaura Hernandez, Jordy Salas and Mayumi Nakamura. The victims died from either blunt trauma or smoke inhalation, the medical examiner told CBS News.

DSC_9307It was confirmed Mar. 18 the explosion was caused by a leak in the gas main on Park Avenue next to the site of the blast. The gas main failed a pressure test, but it is still not clear what ignited the spewing gas, CBS News reported.

Investigators initially suspected the cause was a gas leak as the gas lines in that area are over 120 years old.

Bob Ackley, a gas industry expert, told WCBS 880 that investigators are looking into a cracked water main as well, which could have weakened or broken the gas main.

Residents from across the city of New York have made their way to the scene of the explosion to observe the damage over the past week, according to an employee of the Mini Market located on Park Avenue.

People are curious, Guilbe Juanc, who was working at Mini Market when the explosion happened, said. The store owners played security camera footage of the store for curious bystanders. The footage showed shelves falling over, freezer doors opening and signs falling off the walls as the impact from the explosion hit.

Down the street from the Mini Market, under a bridge, cars damaged by the explosion, were housed. Onlookers took photos of the vehicles as evidence of the destruction, as much of the area surrounding the scene of the blast was blocked off with police tape. Residents of the area wore masks to protect themselves from the smoke and potential gas still lingering in the air.

“[The workers] have been cleaning up the debris since it happened, but there’s still so much to do,” Bonivia said.

The physical clean up process may be nearing completion at this point; however, many victims have expressed feelings of unsettlement. Two have already declared their intent to sue.

Meanwhile, the residents left homeless by the explosion have been promised permanent homes in the near future.

As firefighters removed debris from the scene of the blast, damaged vehicles were housed under a nearby bridge. Many onlookers took photos of the vehicles.
As firefighters removed debris from the scene of the blast, damaged vehicles were housed under a nearby bridge. Many onlookers took photos of the vehicles.

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