At least seven people have been killed after a massive explosion leveled two apartment buildings in New York City’s East Harlem, among the latest victims is Greek musician Andreas Panagopoulos according to the WSJ.
More than 70 others have been injured, while there are still missing residents of the collapsed buildings.
There are people still missing, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Thursday.
“We are continuing rescue operations hoping to find others still alive,” and said the search will “continue for an open-ended period of time,” likely “for days.”
The sudden explosion was reportedly caused by a gas leak. A resident called Consolidated Edison at 9:13 a.m. on Wednesday and reported a detectable gas smell around the two buildings by 116th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem.
After 20 minutes the buildings were gone, leveled by a tremendous explosion whose tremors could be felt more than a mile away. Mayor Bill de Blasio said a number of people are missing, although some may not have been inside the buildings when the blast occurred Wednesday.
“This is a tragedy of the worst kind because there was no indication in time to save people,” said de Blasio.
Greek musician and entrepreneur Andreas Panagopoulos was possibly asleep at the time of the explosion. Recently he started working from home for an internet project he wanted to launch soon.
Panagopoulos, 43, was living in the building for more than a decade together with his wife Lisbeth Perez who had left their apartment for work early morning. She called him about 30 minutes before the explosion and he was at home.
Earlier ANA-MPA had reported that Panagopoulos had been found among the injured at a New York hospital something that his friends and family denied.
Early Thursday morning rescuers found a body that belongs to Panagopoulos, according to a friend who accompanied his wife to the medical examiner’s office.
His friends and family had been looking for him in hospitals since the time of the explosion hoping he would be among the injured.
“We visited many hospitals and followed every lead we had” said Evangelos Alkimos of New York, a close friend and musician who had lived for a period of time in the building that collapsed, in the apartment under Panagopoulos’.
“I stayed with him for a few days and then I moved in temporarily to an apartment under his. Soon after I found a better one in another area and I moved out,” said Alkimos.
The Mayor’s office said nine occupants of the building remain unaccounted for, according to Fire Marshals and the NYPD. Searches of the street have been completed and did not produce any additional victims, the mayor’s office said.
“Our hearts go out to all the families involved,” de Blasio said at a news conference earlier Wednesday. “We are spending every effort to locate each and every loved one.”
The Red Cross center for those affected is based out of PS 57: E. 115th Street between 3rd Avenue and Lexington Avenue.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.