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At Least One Dead, 20 Injured In Manhattan Steam Pipe Explosion


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At Least One Dead, 20 Injured In Manhattan Steam Pipe Explosion

July 18, 2007


Firefighters are working to contain the damage from a massive steam pipe explosion that occurred shortly before 6 p.m. tonight near the corner of Lexington and 41st Street.


[imga=right]http://www.nyctransitforums.com/forums/images/uploads/242199.jpg[/imga]Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that at least one person is dead and nearly 20 more were injured in the blast, which disrupted subway service and forced the evacuation of several buildings in the area.


“The police and fire trucks were coming from every which way,” said another. “Cops in the street were screaming ‘Evacuate! Evacuate! Get off the block.’"


“I heard a big roaring noise and I felt the ground literally shaking,” said one witness.


Scenes of smoke billowing from city streets rekindled fears of 9/11 among city residents, but authorities say that the explosion was not terror-related.


The mayor said the 24-inch steam pipe, which was installed in 1924, likely exploded when a burst of cold water got into the pipe.


The area between 40th Street and 43th Street and between Third and Vanderbilt Avenues has been closed off. New York City Office of Emergency Management is asking everyone to stay away from the area.


Officials say that they are testing for possible asbestos in the air. An OEM spokeswoman warned all those who lived in area buildings to keep their windows closed and alerted those who were exposed to debris to wash with soap and water, remove their clothing, and put it in a plastic bag.


Con Edison has shut off the feeder to the steam line.


When the smoke and steam subsided, a large crater taking up most of Lexington Avenue was visible. A tow-truck was present in the center of the hole.


The four-alarm fire is causing the suspension of service in both directions on the Number 4 train between 86th Street and Bowling Green. Service on the Number 6 train is suspended between 59th Street and Brooklyn Bridge. The Number 5 train is running on the Number 2 train track from Nevins Street to 149th Street. Shuttle service between Grand Central Station and Time Square has been suspended.


The Number 7 train is bypassing Grand Central Station. Commuters should also expect delays on Midtown buses. Metro North trains are still running.


Emergency crews were on the scene as steam and mud shot more than 20 stories from a gaping hole in the ground.


“I saw a bus fly through the air and slam into the ground,” said a third witness. “Debris and smoke kept billowing out of the ground.”


Two people are reportedly in critical condition and a third is being treated for lesser injuries at New York Weill-Cornell Medical Center. Fourteen people were reportedly taken to Bellevue Hospital. There is no word on their condition.


Con Ed Chief Executive Officer Kevin Burke says there are no electrical outages.


In 1989, a steam pipe explosion in Grammercy Park killed three people and injured 24 others.

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