Steam explosion in New York City kills one

by Tim Haas

NBC News

An underground explosion in New York late Wednesday afternoon sent at least 20 people to area hospitals.

One person died as a result of cardiac arrest.

The cause of the blast was an 83-year-old steam pipe but, for a brief time, it brought memories of 9/11 back to a nervous city.
Witnesses said it was like a volcano in the middle of Manhattan, but for nervous New Yorkers, the underground steam explosion sent a panic through the streets.

Semmi Kefri who works in Manhattan says, "I was working, then I heard a big explosion. And one of the guys tells me to run out, because the building was collapsing."

What it actually was, was a geyser of steam and mud from the underground pipes that heat and cool thousands of buildings in Manhattan.

At least 20 people were taken to hospitals, some with serious burns.

Thousands were evacuated from the area.

Subway service was suspended, and the evening commute became a nightmare, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there was nothing sinister that happened here.

Mayor Bloomberg says, "there is no reason to believe whatsoever that this is anything other than a failure of our infrastructure. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that there is anything involved with terrorism or criminality."

And although the incident was both frightening and dangerous, many New Yorkers were relieved that their worst fears about this explosion, were not realized.
A similar steam pipe explosion occurred in Manhattan in 1989.

That incident killed three people.