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NYC buildings collapse in explosion, 2 dead

Published on Mar 13, 2014 1:02 AM

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Two New York buildings collapsed on Wednesday in an explosion believed to be caused by a gas leak, killing at least two people, injuring at least 18, and setting off a search for anyone trapped in the debris, officials said.

A blast that scattered debris onto nearby rooftops brought down adjacent five-story structures shortly after 9 am on the largely residential block at East 116th Street and Park Avenue in Upper Manhattan.

Clouds of thick smoke billowed from the rubble of the apartment buildings that sat above a ground-level church and a piano store. Officials declined to give a number of people still missing in the rubble.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who rushed to the scene in East Harlem, where a cascade of twisted and burnt metal blocked the sidewalk and covered parked cars, said preliminary information showed the explosion was caused by a gas leak.

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