FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio confirmed two people were killed and two buildings were destroyed by a huge explosion caused by a gas leak Wednesday morning in Harlem during his 12:30 p.m. press conference.
The two buildings included 15 residential units. DeBlasio confirmed that 18 people were injured, calling the incident "a tragedy of the worst kind."
An unconfirmed number of people were missing as well, DeBlasio said, but added that some of the missing people may be alive and well in other parts of the city.
A smell of gas was reported at 9:13 a.m. Wednesday to Con Edison in a neighboring building next to the two destroyed in the explosion at 9:31 a.m.
Crews were working to remove heavy debris from the sidewalk and the surrounding area in the search for more victims, New York Fire Department Commissioner Sal Fasano said at the press conference.
Debris also was strewn on the Metro-North train tracks that are less than 100 yards from the explosion site, shutting down commuter rail service to and from Grand Central Terminal.
Commuters were advised to seek alternate routes to and from New York City, but Metro-North officials are hopeful service will be restored by rush hour on Wednesday.
The air quality was not affected beyond the immediate explosion scene, and nearby residents do not need to be concerned, Fasano added.
"It's going to be a long and extended operation and we want to make sure we can get through the debris as quickly as possible," Fasano said at the press conference.
Check back with Daily Voice for further updates on the explosion and Metro-North delays.