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Morning Update: Explosion and Fire on 2nd Avenue

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Photographer/Mayoral Photography Office.
Photographer/Mayoral Photography Office.

Here’s the latest on the explosion and fire that rocked 2nd Avenue near East 7th Street yesterday, destroying three buildings. 

  • Authorities now say at least 19 people were hurt, including four with critical injuries. Victims were taken to Bellevue Hospital, Mount Sinai Beth Israel and the burn unit at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
  • A Harlem resident, 23-year old Nicholas Figueroa, is missing. He was apparently having lunch at Sushi Park, 121 2nd Avenue, and had paid the bill just before the explosion was set off in the building’s basement. Figueroa’s Upper East Side family has searched all of the hospitals for him, but so far he hasn’t turned up. At least one other person is missing but there’s no information about his/her identity as of yet.
  • A preliminary investigation has found that the explosion was likely the result of plumbing and gas work being done in the building. Con Ed was on site about an hour before the explosion and gave the work a failing grade. According to the Daily News, a larger gas pipe was being installed.  Sources reported “there were 15 workers in the basement when someone inside the sushi restaurant smelled gas and contacted the owner of the building, who then called the plumbing contractor… When one of the workers went down into the basement and opened the door, ‘everything exploded.'”
  • A second building, 123 2nd Avenue collapsed while another structure, 119 2nd Avenue, is still in danger of collapsing today.
  • Businesses at 123 2nd Avenue included Pommes Frittes and Sam’s Deli. B&H Dairy, 127 2nd Avenue, is closed but they’re all right and are hoping to reopen soon.
  • Residents of five buildings were unable to return home last night. The Red Cross is operating a shelter from P.S. 63, 121 East 3rd St. UPDATE: Red Cross operations have now been moved to the Tompkins Square Library, 331 East 10th St.
  • Street closures remain in effect on 2nd Avenue between East Houston Street and East 14th Street; East 7th Street from 2nd Avenue to 3rd Avenue.

EV Grieve has continuing coverage of this story throughout the day.

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