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New York Blast Levels Apartment Buildings, Kills Two Women

Two women were killed Wednesday in New York and at least 18 other people injured when a massive explosion leveled two apartment buildings.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said there are a number of missing people, although some may not have been inside the buildings.

The mid-morning blast occurred in the Harlem section of the city, shortly after one resident in a nearby building reported the smell of leaking natural gas. The utility serving the neighborhood, Consolidated Edison, said it dispatched two crews to the scene, but that they arrived just after the explosion.

A utility spokesman would not speculate whether a gas leak caused the blast.

More than 200 firefighters responded to the five-alarm fire that followed the blast, with many of them perched on ladder trucks aiming high-pressured hoses at the demolished buildings. Thick, gray smoke billowed from the destruction.

Both buildings collapsed to the first floor and debris from the explosion littered sidewalks for blocks near the blast.

The site of the explosion is adjacent to railroad tracks, and mainline train services out of the city's Grand Central terminal were suspended as a result.

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