City firefighters stand near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. (Rashid Umar Abbasi/Reuters)
• A explosion has occurred at 8.30pm (NYT), blowing out lower windows of a multi-story residential building in Manhattan
• At least 25 people have been injured, but none of the injuries appear to be life-threatening
• Reports the explosion occurred in or near a dumpster
• Multiple emergency services at the scene which is cordoned off
• Investigations into the cause still underway but gas has been ruled out
A loud explosion has shaken the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan, prompting New York City police and fire department personnel to swarm the area.
At least 25 people have been injured in the blast, firefighters said.
The explosion came hours after a pipe bomb in a trashcan blew up near a fun-run for the military in New Jersey, the Daily Mail reports. No-one was injured in that blast.
The New York incident occurred when a dumpster blew up outside a 14-storey residence for the blind, with the explosion shattering the lower windows of the building.
The explosion, described by one neighbour as “deafening”, happened outside the Associated Blind Housing facility at 135 W23rd St, according to the Post.
The neighbourhood of Chelsea, Manhattan, which is near the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, and the Rockefeller Centre. Photo / Google
The facility provides housing, training and other services for the blind, nypost.comreports.
A witness said at least three people were seen being taken away from the apparent scene of the blast in ambulances, on Saturday night but the severity of their injuries was not immediately clear.
Prime Minister John Key is headed to New York this weekend for New Zealand’s second term at the presidency of the United Nations Security Council.
He is currently in Houston, and will arrive in the city on Monday.
Witness Jakir Aussin, who works at a nearby Dunkin Donuts, described the explosion as a “deafening boom”.
“It was a quiet night, and then I heard this deafening boom,” Aussin told the New York Post.
“My first thought was, ‘Oh god, a bomb,’ so I got down on the floor.
“I looked outside and it’s all broken glass, car alarms going off – I still don’t know what happened.”
Two buildings to the east of the facility were being evacuated. No fires
have been reported, but multiple emergency vehicles, including ambulances, rushed to the scene.
“It was a quiet night, and then i heard this deafening boom,” said Aussin.
“My first thought was, ‘Oh god, a bomb,’ so I got down on the floor,” The Postreported.
“I looked outside and it’s all broken glass, car alarms going off – I still don’t know what happened.”
A police officer escorts an injured man away from the scene on West 23rd Street in New York. Photo / AP
A Reuters witness said at least three people were seen being taken away from the apparent scene of the blast in ambulances, on Saturday night but the severity of their injuries was not yet known.
According to police radio transmissions, the people inside the facility have been initially told to remain inside as police began their investigation.
Tsi Tsi Mallett, who was driving a car on 23rd Street at the time of the explosion, told Reuters: “It was really loud, it hurt my eardrums. My 10-year-old boy was sat in the back seat of the car, and the explosion blew the back window out.”
Neha Jain, 24, who lives in the neighbourhood where the blast took place, told Reuters she was sitting in her room watching a movie when she heard a “huge boom” and “everything shook”.
“Pictures on my wall fell, the window curtain came flying as if there was a big gush of wind. Then we could smell smoke. Went downstairs to see what happened and firemen immediately told us
to go back.”
A local journalist, Josh Marshall, said the incident took place in a relatively quiet area with no particular symbolic or political significance.
While it was a major street in Manhattan, it had relatively light foot traffic, he wrote on his blog
“Because of this I’m not terribly surprised that there seem to be relatively small number of injuries simply because at 8pm or thereabouts there just wouldn’t be that many people around.”
Marshall also downplayed speculation that it could be an attack on the gay community, following reports that it had taken place in a gay neighbourhood.
“If someone had a beef with the gay community there’s nothing symbolic or iconic on that block or really anything particularly interesting at all besides a few barber shops, a deli, a Donkin’ Donuts and a pizza place.”
Witnesses described hearing a massive noise – “100x louder than thunder,” one tweeted.
The smell of gunfire filled the air. People flooded the street from nearby bars and restaurants.
“Louder than any thunder I’ve ever heard in my life,” tweeted Liz Mandel. “Like the sky exploded. Shook the building.”
The New York Times reported that the blast had shattered the windows of a five-storey building and sent debris into the street.
Police officers and counterterrorism officers were now searching the streets around the scene to check for additional explosive devices.
The Times quoted Daniel Yount, 34, who said he had been having drinks on the roof of a building nearby when he heard “a very powerful” explosion.
“We felt the shock wave through our bodies,” he said.
New York City Police issued a bulletin advising motorists in the area that they should “expect extensive traffic delays and emergency personnel in the area of 23rd Street and 7th Avenue” due to police activity there and asking the public to avoid the area.
Hundreds of people were seen fleeing down the block on a cool early autumn evening, as police cordoned off the area.
Authorities in New York said that dozens of people were injured in an explosion Saturday night in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
There were 25 people who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to officials with the New York Fire Department.
Police officers, firefighters and other first responders flooded to the scene, which brought onlookers and closed down a major roadway. The New York Police Department’s counterterrorism bureau also said it was responding to the explosion, which came hours after a pipe bomb exploded in a Jersey Shore garbage can shortly before a scheduled charity race there benefiting Marines and Navy sailors.
In addition, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said its arson and explosives task force was being dispatched to the explosion scene.
The explosion in Chelsea did not stem from gas or a gas leak, according to a law enforcement official who asked not to be identified discussing the investigation.
While authorities did not immediately confirm the nature of the explosion, the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism bureau posted a photo online of what appeared to be a dumpster or garbage container mangled by a blast:
The explosion in the area of 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues happened at about 8:30 p.m. police said. “Several” of those injured were brought to area hospitals, J. Peter Donald, a police spokesman, posted on Twitter.
Photos and accounts posted on social media showed large crowds — as well as a large law enforcement presence — in the area near where the explosion occurred.
“Everybody started running and screaming,” Ryan McMillen, a history professor at Mercy College, told the New York Daily News
President Obama was briefed on the situation in New York and will be updated as more information becomes available, a White House official said late Saturday.
Speaking in Colorado not long after the explosion, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump quickly commented on the situation before much information was known.
“I must tell you that just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows exactly what’s going on,” said Trump shortly after getting off of his plane. His comments were made before authorities confirmed the nature of the explosion.
The explosion in New York comes as foreign leaders, including many heads of state, are heading to Manhattan for the United Nations General Assembly. Secretary of State John F. Kerry arrived Saturday, while President Obama is scheduled to head to the city on Monday.
This annual meeting — held more than two miles from the site of the explosion in Chelsea — is traditionally a tricky time for New York, as many roads are shut down and the heavy security leads to increased traffic.
The explosion happened at about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue on 23rd Street, the fire department tweeted.
“None appear to be life-threatening at this time,” the department added.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the incident was “an intentional act.”
But he said there was no evidence of a “credible and specific threat” to the city. “We do not see a link to terrorism.”
“It is too early to determine what the incident was caused by. We believe it was intentional. A full investigation is under way,” he added.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference on West 23rd Street on September 17, 2016, in New York. (AFP photo)
Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “Full state resources have been made available for this investigation. We are closely monitoring the situation and urge New Yorkers to, as always, remain calm and vigilant.”
The explosion is believed to have come from a dumpster in an area teeming with restaurants, bars and pedestrians.
The blast in Chelsea is thought to have come from a dumpster (pictured) and could have come from an explosive device. (Social media photo)
Police said they found a secondary device, apparently a pressure cooker, at West 27th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenue.
There was also duct tape, a note or some sort of paper with writing attached, as well as cords that came out of the pressure cooker.
The White House said in an announcement that President Barack Obama was briefed on the explosion.
“The president has been apprised of the explosion in New York City, the cause of which remains under investigation. The president will be updated as additional information becomes available,” the White House said.
A police officer is seen at West 23rd and 8th Avenue, two blocks west of the explosion. (Reuters photo)
“It was really loud, it hurt my eardrums. My 10-year-old boy was sat in the back seat of the car, and the explosion blew the back window out,” said Tsi Tsi Mallett, who heard the explosion while driving her car nearby.
Neha Jain, another person, who lives in the neighborhood, said, “Pictures on my wall fell, the window curtain came flying as if there was a big gush of wind. Then we could smell smoke. Went downstairs to see what happened and firemen immediately told us to go back.”
The incident came a few hours after another explosion happened Saturday morning in a New Jersey beach town, which left nobody injured.
An explosion went off in a garbage can Saturday morning in a New Jersey beach town. (Social media photo)
The officials said the explosion, which went off in a garbage can, likely was timed to disrupt a Marine Corps charity run.
Police found three pipe-bomb-type devices wired together near the boardwalk in Seaside Park.
Only one of the devices, which were rudimentary with some type of timer, detonated, two federal law enforcement officers said.
The New York mayor said there is no immediate indication that the blast is related to the one in Manhattan.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said the Nassau County Police Department is on heightened alert following the two explosions.
“Although there is no known imminent threats to Nassau County, police are monitoring these attacks along with federal, state and local authorities,” a statement from Nassau County officials read. “Nassau County Police are intensifying patrols in all areas of mass transit, critical infrastructure, and will increase patrols at significant public events.”