Here are the latest developments from the disaster at 119-123 Second Avenue, which tragically took the lives of two young men.
>Firefighters yesterday pulled the bodies of 23-year-old Nicholas Figueroa and 27-year old Moises Ismael Locón Yac from the rubble. The men were trapped inside the restaurant Sushi Park, 121 2nd Avenue, Thursday when the explosion took place. The body of Lacon, a busboy from Guatemala, will need to be officially identified through dental and DNA records as he was severely burned. Last night, Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said “everyone who was reported missing has been found.” While the search continues, he added, “the likelihood of anyone else being here is very small.”
>Before the blast, Figueroa was on a date with 22-year old Teresa Galarce of Brooklyn. He had gone to the back of the restaurant to pay the bill when the explosion happened. Galarce’s sister reported that she suffered a broken nose, broken rib and a punctured lung. Awilda Cordero, a family spokeswoman, said, Figueroa’s friend likely “survived because she got blown into the street.”
>The Manhattan DA is probing whether gas lines at the site were illegally tapped, leading to the explosion. In August of last year, Con Ed reported, it shut down gas service for 10 days after leaks were detected. At that time, the utility determined that someone had, in fact, illegally tapped into a gas line. Investigators hope to gain access to the basement of 121 2nd Avenue today, where gas and plumbing work was taking place.
>The management of Sushi Park smelled gas on Thursday, but instead of calling 911, contacted the building owner. On Sunday, New York Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Esposito said, “They should have called 911… We don’t know what the outcome would have been. But that’s what they should have done.”
>Some people were allowed to return to their homes over the weekend, but a vacate order remains in effect for 60 apartments in the area. 125 adults and 5 children registered with the Red Cross for housing assistance.
>Various efforts are underway to help those displaced by the disaster. Nativity Church held a clothing and food drive over the weekend. Mildred Guy, a parishoner and longtime resident at 45 East 7th St., lost everything in the explosion and fire. More than $15,000 has been raised for the family via GoFundMe. Another online fundraiser, for Nora Brooks, has netted $30,000. Click on these links for more donation efforts: Diane McClean, Enz Rockabilly Store.
>EV Grieve has a status report on open and closed businesses in the vicinity. The owners of B&H Dairy at 127 2nd Avenue were allowed inside their restaurant over the weekend; they should be able to reopen soon after the vacate order is lifted. Taqueria Diana, Ramen Misoya and Paul’s Da Burger Joint remain closed. On the opposite side of 2nd Avenue, San Loco and Bar Virage are also closed. Same goes for Jimmy’s No. 43, Standings and Burp Castle on East 7th Street.
>Donations for all those directly impacted are being accepted by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC. Checks can be sent to: 253 Broadway, 6th floor, New York, NY 10007. Make sure to specify that your donation is for “East Village collapse.”