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More Details on East Harlem's Tragic Building Collapse; More!

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EAST HARLEM—Details have begun to emerge about the not one, but two buildings that collapsed this morning around 9:30 a.m. on Park Avenue near East 116th Street. 1644 and 1646 Park Avenue housed a Spanish Christian church, a piano store, and 15 apartments in total. It seems the devastation is the result of a natural gas explosion caused by a gas leak. A neighborhood resident told NYDN that the smell of gas had lingered on the block for weeks.

The seismic blast was detected by earthquake monitors run out of Columbia University. "It felt like the world shook," a bystander told NYDN. The two buildings had a modest history of violations by New York City standards, Crain's reports, with 1646 Park Avenue having had only eight violations since 1995. 1644 Park Avenue had only one open violation for exterior cracks, which are seemingly unrelated to today's havoc. The blast occurred just one day after the Center for an Urban Future released a report calling for nearly $50 billion to improve New York City's aging infrastructure, including gas lines.

Mayor de Blasio announced that two women have been pronounced dead, with about a dozen still missing and scores injured. The search moves on into the night. [NYDN; Crain's; Politicker; DNAinfo; Center for an Urban Future report; previously]

BRONX RIVER—The Bronx River Alliance—a non-profit that works to protect, improve, and serve the Bronx River corridor—is getting a new headquarters and facility that will include office space, a nature classroom, boat storage, and a multipurpose community room on the river in Starlight Park. The environmentally friendly, $15 million building will be funded by the Parks Department, with $500,000 coming from the state. The headquarters, to be known as the Bronx River Greenway River House, will help facilitate more educational and recreational use of the city's only freshwater river. [NYDN]