Last update 10:40 a.m. Friday, March 27
A ground-floor explosion just triggered a major building collapse on Second Avenue near East 7th Street in the East Village. Although initial reports indicate that the building in question is 125 Second Avenue, it looks like it's actually 121 Second Avenue. Police and firefighters are on the scene, and there are reports of injuries and multiple civilians missing. The building caught on fire after the explosion, and the fire spread to the neighboring building, 123 Second Avenue (the home of Pommes Frites), which now appears to have completely collapsed. The flames have been
mostly subdued (edit: that is apparently not the case) as of the writing of this post (4:09). We'll update with more information as it becomes available.
Okay. I've uploaded some video. http://t.co/5IC7q7xQ1c— Scott Westerfeld (@ScottWesterfeld) March 26, 2015
UPDATE (4:18): Eater reports that the business on the ground floor of 121 Second Avenue was Sushi Park, and that reports indicate at least 30 people were injured.
Just had another explosion from building pic.twitter.com/CmSDpsF5Rs— UFA (@UFANYC) March 26, 2015
UPDATE (4:36 p.m.): It appears in a photo posted to the Uniformed Firefighters Association Twitter account that the fire has spread to the building directly to the south, 191 Second Avenue. The caption is, "Just had another explosion from building."
UPDTATE (4:52 p.m.): It is now being reported that at least 30 people are missing, not injured. According to a CBS reporter, the FDNY said there are 12 injuries, all civilians. Three are reportedly critical.
UPDATE (5:21 p.m.): "Several law enforcement sources told CNN that there is no indication that this was related to terrorism -- all said it appeared to be a gas explosion."
UPDATE (5:30 p.m.): The Times writes, "Stephen Davis, a spokesman for the Police Department, said construction work was being done at the two buildings involved, 121 and 123 Second Avenue, near Seventh Street, and workers from Consolidated Edison had been working at the site all day."
UPDATE (5:58 p.m.): Mayor De Blasio held a press conference about the explosion and collapse:
The explosion here in the East Village affected four buildings. They are 119, 121, 123 and 125 2nd Avenue. The actual explosion occurred in 121, caused it to partially collapse, and 123 collapsed as well.The mayor also said that they currently know 12 people are injured, three of whom are in critical condition.
Preliminary evidence suggests a gas-related explosion. That investigation is ongoing. The initial impact appears to have been caused by plumping and gas work that was occurring inside 121 2nd Avenue. FDNY and all our first responders have responded. It is now a seven-alarm incident for FDNY, so they've been battling heavy fire conditions – so far, have contained the fire in those four buildings. That's an ongoing operation.
UPDATE (3/27/15 7:45 a.m.): The Times reports that at least 19 people are injured, including four critically and four firemen. At least one person, 23-year-old Nicholas Figueroa, has been reported missing. Figueroa had a lunch date at Sushi Park around the time of the explosion. Additionally, the Times reports that building at no. 119 is in danger of collapse.
This morning there is nothing left but rubble. pic.twitter.com/I6A70Cl0oX— Scott Westerfeld (@ScottWesterfeld) March 27, 2015
UPDATE (3/27/15 10:40 a.m.): Number 119, at the corner of Second Avenue and East 7th Street has also collapsed.
The Observer reports that two people are unaccounted for, while the injury count has climbed to 25 people—20 civilians, four firefighters, and one emergency medical services worker. Four of those people are injured critically.
Meanwhile, a contractor, Dilber Kukic of the Bronx, was at the scene when the explosion occurred and miraculously survived, and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and other city agencies are looking into whether he played a role, according to DNAinfo. Kukic had been at the building earlier to perform a plumbing inspection and entered the basement to investigate a gas odor. "I just happened to be in the area," he said. "We smell gas in the basement. We walk down. We opened the door and, explosion, [we] fell down. I don't know what happened." Kukic was also arrested last month after allegedly bribing an undercover city investigator posing as an HPD inspector with $600 to dismiss two building violations on properties he owns in Washington Heights.