A powerful, industrial explosion in New York has injured more than 30 people, six very critically.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has assured New Yorkers that an explosion which shook the midtown Chelsea section of the city is the result of a tragic industrial accident and there is no reason to suspect an act of terrorism.
Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scopetta says the accident happened in the basement of a company that makes signs. "There were shipments of volatile materials, materials that they needed to do their work, arrived yesterday in 50 gallon drums. There is still a lot of that material in the basement," he said. "All indications are that there was an accident that set off an explosion."
The explosion shook the building next door, which houses a technical school, where highly explosive materials are kept. But the students and instructors were safely evacuated.
The owner of a nearby store says some of his workers were among the injured. "All of the workers who were in the basement pretty much got most of the damage to their faces and bodies," he said. "People on the street floor and the second floor level, they were able to get to the street. A lot of the debris fell on their heads, the light fixtures, duct work. The whole store front blew up, came out, went across the street and fell across the parking garage."
Nearby hospitals went on a full alert. In the wake of the September 11th attack on the city, area hospitals were prepared to test for the use of chemical and biological weapons. The hospitals cancelled the so-called code three alert several hours later.
Chelsea, once an industrial neighborhood full of warehouses, is now one of New York's most vibrant shopping and residential areas.