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Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio told a news conference there a number of people still missing after the Harlem building collapse.
He said: "We know we have lost two people already. There will be a search through the building after the fire is put out looking for those who are missing."
Mr De Blasio added that there will be a "thorough search for a number of missing individuals" and that he has spoken to a number of families looking for loved ones.
Greater New York Red Cross communicator Mike de Vulpilliers wrote on Twitter:
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted after his news conference:
Once again, we have been shown what our first responders are capable of under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. #eastharlemexplosion
Mayor of New York Bill De Blasio has confirmed that a "gas leak was reported 15 minutes before the incident" which caused the explosion. He also said that 250 firefighters are on scene in Harlem.
Mayor de Blasio continued by saying: "This is a tragedy of the worst kind" with near 20 injured and reports that two are dead.
Con Edison, the energy company which services most of New York, confirmed a resident called to "report a gas odour" before the blast:
Report of a gas odor at 1652 Park came at 9:13 from a resident. 2 #ConEdison crews were dispatched at 9:15 and arrived just after explosion.
NBC New York Correspondent Jonathan Vigilotti said the smoke is "making things difficult" for firefighters searching the area for survivors:
Smoke still fills Harlem 2 hours after explosion. http://t.co/LvrgglmrvN
The buildings that exploded were both five stories tall and they both had collapsed down to the first floor, according to a senior FDNY official who spoke to NBC News reporter Tom Winter.
Amateur photographer at the scene Kliina1654 said "So far my building and people in it are OK. Thanks to God!"
At least two people have died and 20 are injured after two buildings collapsed, following an apparent gas explosion. Matt Washington, chairman of Community Board 11 which represents East Harlem has told NBC.
The New York Fire Department has updated its social media account by tweeting that 16 people are injured, with the scene still ongoing.
Now: There are 16 injuries related to the collapse at 1644 & 1646 Park Ave, #Manhattan. The scene is still developing.