Earth shattering occurrences are more likely to be associated with Southern California because of its various fault lines. But a sensation like an earthquake is just how one man describes the blast in Manhattan’s East Harlem Wednesday morning.
The explosion, apparently caused by a gas leak, didn’t just rattle that man’s entire building. It leveled two nearby apartment buildings. At this point, authorities confirm at least seven people dead. More than 60 individuals have been injured, some of the critically. Officials say they remain hopeful that more survivors might yet be found. The search for them continues, though it is not clear how many there might be.
One big question surrounding this disaster is how long the gas leak issue had been a problem and whether or not anyone can or should be held accountable for the personal injuries and apparent wrongful deaths that have resulted. Such matters are best considered in consultation with an attorney.
According to some survivors, the smell of natural gas was noticeable as early as Tuesday. One says that the landlord of one of the buildings had been informed that day that there was problem. Apparently no action was taken. Another person says that she smelled gas the night before the Wednesday morning blast, but that it dissipated and so she and her husband went to sleep. He’s now missing.
One man also said that fire officials had been called about the order a few weeks ago, but officials say they have no record of any such calls having been received.
Utility company officials, too, say they had not received any complaints. They also say they last checked the block as part of an ongoing leak survey program on Feb. 28 and no problems were noted at that time.
Federal safety officials have also been called in to investigate and it may be that their findings will be integral to determining any eventual liability issues.
Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune, “Searchers scour rubble after gas explosion kills 7,” Verena Dobnik, Associated Press, March 13, 2014