People garther at the scene of the explosion. Photo courtesy of Newsmax.
An explosion rocked New York City on Sunday and 25 civilians were confirmed to have been injured in the blast, the New York City Fire Department said on Twitter.
The explosion, described by one neighbour as “deafening,” happened outside the Associated Blind Housing facility at 135 W. 23rd Street. The facility provides housing, training and other services for the blind.
The blast occurred at about 8:30 p.m. (0030 GMT Sunday) between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue on 23rd Street, a major east-west thoroughfare in the fashionable downtown neighborhood of Chelsea, J. Peter Donald, a deputy commissioner with the New York Police Department, said in a Twitter message.
Neha Jain, 24, who lives in the neighborhood, said she was sitting in her room watching a movie when she suddenly 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.”
Representatives of the NYPD, the Fire Department of New York and other city agencies could not be reached immediately for further comment.
Hundreds of people were seen fleeing down the block on a cool early autumn evening, as police cordoned off the area.
“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 was in a car driving along 23rd Street when the explosion took place. Her son was not injured.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said at a campaign rally in Colorado Saturday night that a “bomb went off” in New York City, as initial reports about a possible explosion in Manhattan were circulating.
“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 he deplaned at a rally at a hangar here. At that time, nobody knew what had caused the explosion.
Trump added: “But boy, we are living in a time — we better get very tough, folks. We better get very, very tough. We’ll find out. It’s a terrible thing that’s going on in our world, in our country and we are going to get tough and smart and vigilant. … We’ll see what it is. We’ll see what it is.”
The explosion prompted emergency personnel to swarm one of the most bustling areas of the city on a cool autumn evening.
The explosion appears to have been an “intentional act,” but there is no “evidence at this point of a terror connection,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference. CNN reported that authorities suspect the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device, or IED.
Late Saturday evening, the NYPD said a possible secondary device had been located at West 27th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, a block away from where the previous explosion took place. The area was being cleared.
At least three people were seen being taken away from the scene of the blast in ambulances, but the severity of their injuries was not immediately clear. A car seen driving through the area had its rear window blown out.
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.
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