domingo, 18 de setembro de 2016
Manhattan explosion: New York on full alert after blast rocks city
Manhattan explosion: New York on full alert after blast rocks city
Witnesses describe people ‘running for their lives’ after blast in Chelsea as police examine second device while mayor Bill de Blasio says no link to terror
Martin Pengelly, David Taylor and Joanna Walters in New York
Sunday 18 September 2016 07.40 BST
New York has been placed on full alert after 29 people were injured in an explosion in the Chelsea area of Manhattan on Saturday evening, with at least one other device being investigated by police in the city.
The cause of the first blast, which one witness said was “like a volcano”, was believed to have been an explosive device placed in a trash can on 23rd Street, a bustling area of the city on the lower west side a few blocks from the Empire State Building.
Another device reported to be a pressure cooker with wires attached to a cell phone was discovered on nearby 27th Street.
Earlier in the day, a pipe bomb exploded in New Jersey near the scene of a run in support of US Marines.
Although the New York mayor, Bill de Blasio, told a media conference the Chelsea explosion was an “intentional act”, he stopped short of saying it was a bomb and said that there was “no evidence” yet of any link to terror.
However, a police officer at the scene confirmed to the Guardian that the first explosion was caused by a device placed in a trash can on 23rd Street. He did not give any further details.
The second site of investigation on 27th Street also involved “a device”, the officer said, and police were also examining a third site of interest but it was not clear whether it was an explosive device.
CNN reported that the second device was a pressure cooker, found with wires attached to a cell phone and a note. Pressure cooker bombs were the devices used to deadly effect in the bombing of the Boston Marathon in 2013.
Bomb squad officers removed the device from the site and were preparing to transfer it to a safe location to conduct a controlled explosion away from the heavily residential area.
De Blasio was flanked by the newly installed New York police commissioner, James O’Neill, when he spoke to reporters at around 11pm local time. “Injuries are significant but none of the injured are likely to die,” the mayor said after the blast had rocked city streets, producing a wall of flame that sent people “running for their lives”.
Police officers who were driving west on 23rd Street a few blocks south of the Empire State Building witnessed the explosion, the mayor said, and the blast was captured on video, which is being analysed by city and federal experts.
“There is no evidence at this point of a terror connection to this incident. This is preliminary,” De Blasio said. But he added: “Early indications are that this was an intentional act.”
In Colorado, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke before any official confirmation of what had happened when he told reporters there had been a bomb in New York City, which proved “we better get real tough, folks”.
After landing in suburban New York City, Clinton told reporters she had been briefed “about the bombings in New York and New Jersey” and said: “We need to do everything we can to support our first responders, also to pray for the victims. We have to let this investigation unfold.”
A witness who spoke to the Guardian thought it had been a gas explosion but the authorities said there was no evidence of “a natural gas cause”.
The mayor and the police chief refused to give details on whether there was evidence of a bomb or whether the explosion was in a trash can, inside some other container or simply on the street.
Asked specifically if there had been an improvised explosive device (IED) at the scene, the New York police commissioner, James O’Neill, said: “We are not saying that.”
De Blasio declined to go into details but said that although roads were closed to traffic, residents were not being evacuated from either of the two sites of investigation.
“Tonight, New York City experienced a very serious incident. All hands are on deck,” said De Blasio.
He also said there was no evidence to link the incidents in New York to a pipe bomb in New Jersey earlier in the day.
“Based on what we know at this hour, there is no specific connection to the incident in New Jersey. There is no specific evidence of a connection at this time and there is no credible and specific threat against New York City at this time,” he added.
He ordered all New York police officers and other agencies to be “on full alert”. But he added a note of defiance.
“Whatever the cause, whatever the intention, New Yorkers will not be intimidated,” De Blasio said.
He called for anyone who had witnessed the explosion, and anyone who had captured any video at the scene to reach out to the authorities immediately.
The first official report of the explosion, which occurred on the street outside 131 West 23rd Street, the NYPD later stated, came via Twitter earlier prior to the press conference.
“Explosion happened at roughly 8.30pm on 23rd street between 6th and 7th avenues,” J Peter Donald, NYPD assistant commissioner for communication and public information, said in a tweet confirming the explosion. “Several injured transported to area hospitals.”
The New York fire department subsequently said in a tweet that 25 people had been injured, none seriously. One of the injured suffered a puncture wound that was considered serious, fire department commissioner Daniel Nigro said. He said the other injuries were minor, described as scrapes and bruises.
President Barack Obama, who was attending a congressional dinner in Washington, “has been apprised of the explosion in New York City, the cause of which remains under investigation”, a White House official said. “The president will be updated as additional information becomes available,” the official added.
At West 23rd street and 8th Avenue, two blocks west of the scene of the blast, hundreds of people out for the night in Manhattan had gathered behind police tape. Witnesses said FBI and homeland security officials were also at the scene of the blast.
One witness, Deborah Griffith, told the Guardian she had seen the blast “like a volcano”.
People were running everywhere, she said, and “it was real loud”. The explosion was red in the centre, she said, producing a wall of flame. Griffin thought it was a gas explosion: she was shopping at Home Depot and was seven doors away when the blast happened.
“The explosion was so big,” she said. “People were running for their lives.”
Another witness, Soleil Philomena, a Chelsea resident, was carrying her grey mongrel dog Wolfie in a black shoulder bag. She told how she had just got off the crosstown bus and went into a grocery store to buy a magazine at West 23rd and 7th Avenue.
“I came back out,” she said, “and I heard ‘boom!’ I thought it was fireworks, but everything was shaking, the buildings, my body was shaking. I looked up there was a big cloud of smoke. I saw smoke, it was like a mushroom cloud of black smoke.
“People started running past me and I started running with them. Then we were hugging each other, everyone was so shocked.”
Philomena went into a nearby branch of Whole Foods where she said she felt safe. “The noise was like one of those cherry bombs but a thousand times louder,” she added.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright, a resident of the area, said in a post to Facebook: “Major explosion on our block. Front door of our building shattered and things fell off our shelves … but David and I are fine and so is our dinner guest.
“The street has been shut down and we are not allowed by police and FBI to leave our apartment. Feeling deeply alarmed and thankful to be safe at the same time.”
West 23rd and 8th Avenue
Despite the lack of official information about what had happened, far away to the west, at a rally in Colorado Springs, Trump said there had been a “bomb” in New York.
Moments after leaving his plane, according to pool reporters, Trump said: “I must tell you that just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows exactly what’s going on but, boy we are really in a time – we better get very tough, folks.
Pipe bomb explodes near Jersey Shore 5km run in support of US Marines
“We better get very tough. We’ll find out. It’s a terrible thing that’s going on in our world and in our country and we are going to get tough and smart and vigilant. We’ll see what it is. In any event, I am so thrilled to be in Colorado.”
Earlier in the day, police sources said a pipe bomb exploded near the course of a scheduled 5km race in support of the US Marines and sailors in Seaside Park, New Jersey, 85 miles down the east coast from New York.
Other devices failed to explode, authorities said. The race had been delayed, ensuring no runners were near the explosion, which happened in a trash can. The event was subsequently cancelled.