Explosion Death Toll Reaches 7; Metro-North Service Back to Normal

The FDNY continues to search the rubble for more victims in the blast that leveled 2 buildings in Harlem.

Metro-North Railroad. Patch file photo.
Metro-North Railroad. Patch file photo.
By Barbara Heins

Click here to see photos of the scene.

Update: 8:45 a.m., March 13:

The death toll in the Harlem explosion that leveled two East Harlem buildings March 12, has risen to seven, according to officials.

Rescuers sifting through the debris of the two buildings that housed apartments, a piano business and a church, discovered a seventh victim early Thursday as they continued searching for more missing people.

Fire Department spokesman Danny Glover said Thursday morning the body was the fourth found overnight, according to USA Today. Three bodies were found Wednesday following the explosion at Park Avenue and 116th streets, that rained debris throughout the area and onto nearby Metro-North Railroad tracks, shutting down commuter travel into Grand Central Terminal until the Wednesday evening rush hour.

Metro-North service on Thursday was running pretty close to normal.

Fire officials said at least 60 people were hurt in the explosion that erupted about 15 minutes after a resident reported smelling natural gas. Con Ed crews were enroute to the scene to investigate that report when the blast occurred.

Update: 1:23 p.m., March 12:

A Metro-North train was traveling by when the explosion happened, The New York Times reports:

"Commuters on a southbound Metro-North train that had just passed 116th Street said that the train shook violently.

"The impact felt as if the last car had been hit broadside by something large, passengers said."

Update: 12:29 p.m., March 12:
New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio said two people were killed and several remain unaccounted for following a mid-morning explosion that leveled two buildings along Metro-North rail tracks on Wednesday.

There are more than 250 firefighters at the scene where there remains a heavy fire condition that is now at five alarms, the Fire Commissioner said. The commissioner said heavy cranes will be brought in to help sift through the rubble in search of those missing.

"We are going to use every effort and tool to locate the people and there of course, will be a recovery effort," looking for survivors, the fire commissioner said in a press conference.

At least 18 people were injured in the explosion that was reported about 9:30 a.m. March 12.

Meanwhile all train service into New York City remains suspended.

Update: 12:15 p.m., March 12:
There are several reports that two people perished in the mid-morning explosion that leveled two buildings near the Metro-North Railroad in Harlem, suspending service on the nation's busiest commuter line on Wednesday. 

Update: 11:38 a.m., March 12:
Here's the latest from Metro-North on how to negotiate train travel:

"New Haven Line service remains suspended into and out of Grand Central Terminal until further notice due to an explosion in a building adjacent to our tracks. Eastbound customers should take the No. 5 Subway service to the 180th Street Station and transfer to the No. 2 Subway for service to 233rd Street to access the Woodlawn Station. Westbound train service will operate to Woodlawn Station where customers can take the No. 2 Subway service. Please listen for announcements at your station."

Update: 10:45 a.m., March 12:

Two buildings have collapsed following an explosion that has injured at least a dozen people Wednesday morning in East Harlem, causing the shutdown of all Metro-North rail service into New York City.

It happened around 9 a.m. on Park Avenue on 116th Street, the FDNY said. One of the buildings that collapsed had a piano repair shop with apartments above and the second building housed a church, according to CBS New York. The explosion rained debris on Metro-North tracks.

This is the second incident this week affecting Metro-North service. On early Monday, service was impacted when a rail worker was struck and killed while working on the tracks.

Update: 10:17 a.m. March 12:

New York City firefighters have arrived at the scene of a possible building collapse at East 116th Street and Park Avenue in Harlem, according to the New York Daily News.

A Fire Department spokesman said the first call about the possible collapse at 9:31 a.m. at 1646 Park Ave. apparently caused by an explosion.

According to CBS New York, the bomb squad is responding as a precaution. So far, there are reports of 11 minor injuries. Many reported hearing a loud explosion and began posting pictures of the scene on Twitter.

Metro-North announced: "New Haven Line Service into and out of Grand Central Terminal is temporarily suspended until further notice due to an explosion in a building adjacent to our tracks. We will notify you as soon as possible of alternate service information. Please listen for announcements at your station."

Original story: 9:50 a.m. March 12:
Police activity has prompted Metro-North to suspend New Haven Line Service into and out of Grand Central Terminal.

Here is the announcement released by the railroad at 9:42 a.m.:
"New Haven Line Service into and out of Grand Central Terminal is temporarily delayed until further notice due to police activity.  As more information becomes available we will notify you as soon as possible.  Please listen for announcements at your station."

Patch will have updates as more information becomes available.

EMR March 12, 2014 at 02:38 PM
Mayor Bill Brennan's pet project folly is to bring gas lines to Wilton. No thank you Mayor Bill. GAS explosions happening on a daily basis.
Paula Antolini March 12, 2014 at 02:42 PM
Live Feed of the fire: http://www.wfsb.com/category/216668/wfsb-eyewitness-news-livestream-1
Sir March 13, 2014 at 01:06 PM
@emr...daily basis?
Paula Antolini March 13, 2014 at 01:14 PM
Sir....Perhaps emr did not mean that literally...but I did find that there is concern by utility companies about aging systems in older cities, "what to do about aging natural gas mains, many of them in difficult-to-access locations in older urban areas, which have deteriorated and are prone to leaking".....here's one NY example: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/03/140312-east-harlem-explosion-natural-gas-leaks-risk/


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