NEW YORK: A residential building in Manhattan exploded and collapsed on Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring 17 others as a serious fire engulfed the area in thick smoke, officials said.
The explosion struck a building at 116th Street and Park Avenue in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York, where witnesses said they were jolted awake by what sounded like an earthquake.
Mainline train services in and out of Grand Central terminal were suspended as a result of the incident next to its tracks.
Hundreds of police and firefighters were on site with emergency service vans and fire trucks, as a dense white column of smoke spewed into the sky next to the Metro-North railway line, an AFP reporter said.
A spokesman for energy company Con Edison told local TV channel NY 1 that it got a call from the building alerting them to a possible gas leak at 9:13 am, shortly before the blast.
Local residents also spoke of smelling gas in the area.
But Con Edison stopped short of confirming that the explosion had been caused by a gas leak.