On Sunday, March 29, two bodies were recovered from the ruins of the blasted NY building which collapsed on Thursday March 26 due to an apparent gas leakage. The explosion leveled other two nearby building and affected a fourth.
Police had been looking for the two missing persons since the explosion occurred. The tragic event injured 22 people, four of which are now in hospitals in critical conditions. Officials believe the gas explosion was caused by unauthorized usage of one of the building’s gas lines.
The two missing men were believed to have been inside the building’s ground floor sushi restaurant when the explosion occurred. They were identified as Moises Lucon, 26, one of the restaurant’s employees and Nicholas Figueroa, 23, who was there on a date. The identity of the two men was only announced after the medical examiner gave the positive results.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro stated that the search continues, although no other people had been reported missing after the discovery of the two bodies. The families had been informed of the deaths. He explained that “everyone who had been reported missing has now been found”. He added the following statement:
“We have removed over 1,000 cubic yards of debris, and we’re not finished yet so we will remain on the scene a few more days to accomplish that task.”
Search operations consisted of workers along with search dogs going through all the rubble and loose bricks and wood that once made the three apartment buildings.
The most plausible cause of the explosion is, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, a tapped gas line. Consolidated Edison reported that utility workers noticed in August of last year that the restaurant’s gas line had been illegally tapped. This led to officials shutting down gas services for 10 days until necessary changes had been made.
Con Ed inspectors examined the building about one hour before the explosion occurred. They reported the gas service upgrades were insufficient and couldn’t pass inspection. The gas line was once again shut down in order to prevent its usage.
Fifteen minutes later, the owner of the restaurant smelled gas and notified the landlord who then called the contractor, Dilber Kukic. Together with the owner’s son, Kukic went to the basement to inspect the situation. When they opened the door, the blast occurred, burning their faces.
Image Source: Deccan Chronicle