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Search under way at NYC building collapse, 1 dead

Source: Reuters - Wed, 12 Mar 2014 15:16 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK, March 12 (Reuters) - A building collapsed in Upper Manhattan on Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring more than a dozen, setting off a search for anyone trapped in the debris, officials said.

Massive clouds of smoke billowed from the charred rubble of the structure on the largely residential block at East 116th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem, which reportedly collapsed sometime after 9 a.m. (1300 GMT).

Residents said the collapse was accompanied by a loud boom that could be heard from blocks away and shattered windows around the neighborhood.

Crowds of residents wearing protective scarves and masks filled the sidewalks of surrounding streets, which were blocked off with yellow police tape.

The New York City Police Department said it was investigating reports that the collapse may have involved two buildings.

"The cause of the explosion is undetermined at this time," said police spokesman Martin Speechley.

"It's a very active scene. It's a very chaotic scene," said Fire Department spokesman Michael Parrella. The department said at least one person had been killed and 17 people injured.

Fire trucks used high cranes to spray blasts of water into the rubble, as dozens of ambulances and police cruisers with flashing lights swarmed the scene.

Commuter trains were stopped on nearby tracks because of the debris on the rails and passengers were ordered off the Metro-North Railroad cars at the Fordham stop in the Bronx, passengers said.

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