Death toll from East Harlem building explosion and collapse rises to 7

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

New York, NY, United States (4E) – Four bodies were recovered Thursday morning from the rubble of two buildings in East Harlem that collapsed after an explosion on Wednesday bringing the death toll from the disaster to seven.

The recovered bodies were three adult males and one adult female, according to the New York Police Department. Three other women were also killed in the explosion that leveled a five-storey apartment building and the Spanish Christian Church on Park Avenue.

Police said five people remain missing and at least 54 were injured.

More than 200 firefighters were at the scene dousing remaining flames at the collapsed buildings. A claw was lifting wreckage and sifting through debris while cadaver dogs help search for survivors and bodies underneath the rubble.

Meanwhile, city officials said the basement of the collapsed buildings should be inspected to look for clues on what triggered the explosion. A resident reportedly complained to Con Edison of a gas smell about 18 minutes before the 9:31 a.m. explosion on Wednesday.

Gas explosion is believed to be the culprit but Mayor Bill de Blasio said initial examination of 911, 311 calls and work by Con Edision in the area gave no hint as to the cause of such explosion.

Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano also said there are no reports of possible gas leaks at the buildings where the blast took place or surrounding structures in the last month. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said there had been no calls regarding gas leaks since 2010, according to New York Daily News.

Con Edison responded to two complaints of gas odor on the block on Jan. 6, 2011 and May 7, 2013 and made the necessary repairs, Con Edison CEO John McAvoy said.

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