NEW YORK (AP) — Rescuers working amid gusty winds, cold temperatures and billowing smoke pulled four additional bodies overnight from the rubble of two Manhattan apartment buildings, as the death toll rose Thursday to at least seven from a gas leak-triggered explosion that reduced the area to a pile of smashed bricks, splinters and mangled metal.
The explosion Wednesday morning in East Harlem injured more than 60 people, with searchers still trying to locate others a day later. Crews used generator-powered floodlights and thermal imaging cameras to identify heat spots — bodies or pockets of fire — at the site on Park Avenue and 116th Street. Police guarding the scene wore surgical masks and neighborhood residents covered faces with scarfs amid the thick, acrid air.
"This is a difficult job, a challenging job," Fire Department spokesman Jim Long said. He said it was "a very terrible and traumatic scene."
Firefighters perched on surrounding rooftops Thursday morning, dousing the still-smoldering debris from above, drawing huge clouds of thick smoke that swirled over Park Avenue and wafted through the neighborhood.