High-pressure steam leak in Manhattan; no injuries reported

Emergency responders examine the scene at a steam pipe explosion in Midtown Manhattan New York City

Emergency responders examine the scene at a steam pipe explosion in Midtown Manhattan New York City

The steam-pipe explosion that rocked the Flatiron District in Manhattan on Thursday was a roaring reminder of a fatal blast that happened 11 years ago in Midtown.

The city is still investigating the cause of the explosion, de Blasio said.

NEW YORK-A subterranean steam pipe explosion on Thursday in NY created an urban geyser that snarled traffic during the city's morning rush hour, but caused no injuries, authorities said.

"The work necessary to go in and abate all of the steam pipes would be astronomical", said John-Patrick Curran, a NY environmental attorney.

The blast startled those in the area, some of whom immediately braced for the worst. ConEd also warned anyone who was exposed to the debris that they should to bag their clothes and take a shower.

The 20-inch high-pressure steam leak beneath Fifth Avenue at the intersection with East 21st Street created a huge break in the ground. "That's obviously a real concern to us", de Blasio said at a Thursday afternoon news conference near the site of the blast at Fifth Avenue and 21st Street.

New York City Council speaker Corey Johnson tweeted a video of the incident, saying it was a "miracle no one was hurt". He said he walked closer to see what was going on when he started to feel white flakes fall on him. "But it's human nature to be curious".

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The fire department confirmed the possibility of asbestos being released in the explosion. A network of steam piping meanders underneath New York City, and explosions are not uncommon.

Another deadly Manhattan steam pipe explosion, in August 1989 in the Gramercy Park neighbourhood, killed one resident and two Con Ed workers. The explosion injured dozens of people, including a tow-truck driver who was severely burned by the scalding spray.

That rupture caused millions of dollars in damages to buildings and led to lawsuits.

Asbestos is used to insulate steam pipes and prevent temperature shocks, said Rae Zimmerman, a public administration professor at New York University. Several buildings in the immediate area have been evacuated as a precaution.

Con Edison spokesman Alfonso Quiroz said that crews will go into the hole to examine the pipe after the cleanup.

In NY (USA) exploded pipe steam heating systems.

MTA bus service in and around the area is also being affected. Also, parts of lower Fifth Avenue could be closed.

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