Desperate Relatives Search for Missing Victims of East Harlem Explosion
EAST HARLEM — Relatives of the dozens of people who were injured or missing in the massive explosion that leveled a pair of East Harlem buildings Wednesday desperately searched for their loved ones at area hospitals and a Red Cross station.
Three women were killed and at least 46 people were injured—including four children—when the buildings at 1644 and 1646 Park Ave. crumbled in the 9:30 a.m. blast, which was believed to be caused by gas, hospital and city officials said.
Tanco's cousin, Diana Cortez, 56, had stopped by Harlem Hospital Wednesday hoping to get information about Tanco who lived on the second floor of 1644 Park Ave.
"We called [her home] and have no knowledge of her whereabouts," Cortez said. "We're hoping for the best."
Tanco, a dental assistant, had the day off on Wednesday, her cousin said.
"Nobody has been able to find her," Cortez said.
Mount Sinai Hospital treated 23 patients — the majority of the victims — for cuts, scrapes, smoke inhalation and broken bones, Emergency Room director Dr. Kevin Chason said. One unidentified woman pulled from the rubble was treated at the hospital for head injuries and was listed in critical, but stable condition.
Metropolitan Hospital, on First Avenue and 92nd Street, handled 17 patients — including one child — from the blast. Most of the patients were walk-ins, a hospital spokesman said. They were still evaluating nine patients who were listed in stable condition.
Luis River, 52, who lives on the block, said that the explosion "threw me two, three feet in the air." He was treated for back pain.
"I was laying down I thought it was an earthquake or somebody was trying to bomb the building."
Saint Luke's and Harlem hospital also treated a handful of victims.
Family members continued to search into the night.
Montserrat Acevedo, 24, went to four hospitals hoping find her brother-in-law Jordy Salas, who lived in an apartment at 1644 Park Ave.
"It's very stressful, because we don't know anything since 9 a.m.," Acevedo said.
A couple of FBI agents were also hurt in the explosion, a spokesman said.
"Earlier today, two FBI agents were injured when a building exploded in Harlem near 116th Street and Lexington Avenue. The agents injuries are not life threatening and they are expected to make a full recovery,” FBI spokesman Chris Sinos said.
City officials told relatives to call 311 for information on victims or (212) 639-9675.