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At Least 7 Dead As NY Crews Dig Through Explosion Rubble

Firefighters pulled four more victims from the rubble overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning at the scene of a massive explosion in East Harlem.
Posted at 8:49 AM, Mar 13, 2014

Rescue crews continue to dig through the rubble of a gas explosion at an East Harlem apartment building. Overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning, they pulled four more victims from the debris.

Right now the death toll is at least seven.

ANCHOR: "At least 60 injured after a gas explosion leveled two buildings in East Harlem. Firefighters are still going through the rubble searching for more victims." (Via WCBS)

KATHY SMITH: "It was mass confusion. Firetrucks went by, Con Edison, EMS. People were running and screaming. The senior citizen home next door — the windows were shattered and people were looking out the windows bloody." (Via The New York Times)

By Thursday morning, three of the people who died — all of them women — had been identified. A 45-year-old security officer, a 67-year-old dental hygienist and a 21-year-old.

Officials say the cause of the explosion has been confirmed as a gas leak — a blast so intense one witness told The New York Times it "ripped the stomach right out of you."

While investigators look for a cause for the leak, a spokesman for gas company Con Edison told reporters they first got calls from residents complaining of smelling gas at 9:13 a.m. Wednesday. (Via CNN)

REPORTER: "The building blew up just 18 minutes later before utility and fire crews could arrive."

NTSB OFFICIAL: "We want to find out not only what happened, but we want to find out why it happened." (Via WNBC)

With so much rubble to sift through and so many people close to the two buildings, numbers of missing and injured continue to change. Some were lucky. (Via WNBC)

REPORTER: "Colin Patterson was at ground zero buried beneath a half dozen pianos at the store where he was working."

COLIN PATTERSON: "They were literally on their side and everything. And I'm right there and everything is just around me and I'm not hurt." (Via WABC)