HOST: An explosion in the East Village yesterday afternoon injured 25 people. At least two more are missing – 23 year old Nicholas Figueroa who was eating at the Sushi restaurant in one of the buildings at the time of the explosion and Moises Lucon – an employee at that restaurant. One building has completely collapsed. A second building partially collapsed and in danger of collapsing.
At a press conference this afternoon, Mayor de Blasio confirmed the explosion does appear to be related to a gas leak.
DE BLASIO: You rarely see a scene of such devastation in the middle of a city like this. This was 24 hours ago a vibrant, bustling street and today people are dealing with the aftermath of this tragedy.” (00:16)
This afternoon, firefighters are still hosing down the rubble on Second Avenue. Hanna Klingberg has more.
Light grey smoke is still rising from where the three buildings stood on Second Avenue.
evidence so far suggeststhe cause of the fire was a gas explosion at 121 Second Avenue. That’s the location of Sushi Park, the restaurant where the two missing people are believed to have been. Moises Lucon was working there. 23-year-old Nicholas Figueroa was on a date there. His brother, Neal Figueroa, says bank records shows Nicolas had just paid for his meal when the explosion happened. But since then, the family has heard nothing.
FIGUEROA: For the most part we’re just really praying… You know, find my brother Nicolas, oldest out of four boys.
Nicolas Figueroa recently graduated from university and was on a date with a 19-year-old woman, who was rescued from the building and brought to Bellevue Hospital Center with a broken nose and fractured ribs. His brother Neal says the family is still holding out hope.
FIGUEROA: I just want my brother to be safe, I just want him to smile again, I want him home. There’s no place like home.
Residents of nearly 150 apartments had to evacuate. A reception center has been set up at the Tompkins Square Library on East 10th Street, and Josh Lockwood, regional CEO of the Red Cross says he’s impressed by the community’s efforts to help them.
LOCKWOOD: We’ve seen the best of new york and this community in the east village that’s risen up to volunteer and to give support and to provide meals.
Naya Jones has to evacuate. The Red Cross put her up at the local YMCA last night. Her building is still standing, but Jones doesn’t know when she’ll be able to return to it.
JONES: I’m trying to figure out where we can go right now. We don’t have access to out building , so you know it kind of sucks …Everything is alright for now , I cant really complain, I’m just thankful to be alive.
Linda Wagner lives two blocks away. She wasn’t evacuated, but she says yesterday’s events make her worry about the safety of her building. And she doesn’t think the city is doing enough to make sure the neighborhood is safe.
WAGNER: Where is the department of buildings? If you complain, it takes 90 days to get an inspection.
Traffic is restricted to residents for five blocks of 2nd avenue near the site from and on 6th, 7th, and 8th streets between 1st and 3rd avenues. Police have reopened the sidewalk on Second ave opposite the collapsed buildings. Hanna Klingberg, Columbia Radio News.