Peekskill Councilman: Harlem Explosion Scene Reminiscent Of 9-11

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A police officer wears a mask in East Harlem as they man the scene after a deadly building explosion caused by a gas leak.
A police officer wears a mask in East Harlem as they man the scene after a deadly building explosion caused by a gas leak. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Darren Rigger
Police in East Harlem near the site of a deadly building explosion caused by a gas leak.
Police in East Harlem near the site of a deadly building explosion caused by a gas leak. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Darren Rigger
A child wears a mask in East Harlem near the site of a deadly building explosion caused by a gas leak.
A child wears a mask in East Harlem near the site of a deadly building explosion caused by a gas leak. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Darren Rigger

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- Darren Rigger, a councilman for the City of Peekskill, works in Harlem and was on the scene Wednesday afternoon of the gas leak and building explosion that left two dead and at least 18 injured.

Rigger, who works at 119th Street in East Harlem, was on a train commuting to work when the explosion occurred. 

New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio confirmed two people were killed and two buildings were destroyed by an explosion by the explosion.

Rigger said Wednesday afternoon that he could hear helicopters flying overhead.

"The air quality is very bad," Rigger said. "Police and children are wearing masks.  The noise, burning smell and hazy air are reminiscent of lower Manhattan after 9-11.  My thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by the terrible incident."

Rigger said he saw Rep. Charles Rangel's staff at the site offering assistance.

The two buildings included 15 residential units and DeBlasio confirmed that 18 people were injured, calling the incident "a tragedy of the worst kind." DeBlasio added that there are an unconfirmed number of missing people as well, but said some of the missing may be alive and well in other parts of the city.

A smell of gas was reported at 9:13 a.m. to Con Edison in a neighboring building next to the ones that were destroyed by the explosion at 9:31 a.m.

Debris was strewn on the Metro-North train tracks that are less than 100 yards from the building, shutting down commuter rail service to and from Grand Central Station. 

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