7 Confirmed dead in Harlem explosion, among them 3 Latinas

Two buildings in East Harlem, New York collapsed on Wednesday morning after a huge explosion, leaving at least seven people dead.

At a press conference, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the explosion, located on Park Avenue between 116th and 117th streets, was caused by a gas leak. Con Edision also confirmed that neighbors called in to complain about the smell of gas just 18 minutes before the explosion. Now, only three of the victims have been identified, at least 69 people have been treated for injuries, and nine are still missing.


Read more ¿Qué más?: Massive explosion rocks New York City early this morning (UPDATED)

Three of the fatalities have been identified as 44-year-old public safety sergeant Griselde Camacho, 67-year-old dental hygienist Carmen Tanco, and 22-year-old Rosaura Hernandez Barrios. Four others also perished in the building collapse, but their bodies were discovered overnight or this morning and have not yet been identified.

According to the Huffington Post, one the buildings held a Spanish Christian Church with tenants and their children living in apartments directly above it. The blast took place near the Metro-North train tracks in Harlem, and service was suspended in and out of Grand Central Terminal as workers cleared debris.

This is so heartbreaking and scary, especially because it seems there was no indication anything was wrong in time to save everybody. People complained about the smell of gas, but unfortunately, it only happened right before the explosion, leaving not enough time to evacuate the buildings. And sadly, it seems the death toll number is only going up as authorities continue to sift through the debris--which is exactly what I've been afraid of since I first heard about what happened.

As a New Yorker, I can picture exactly how many people go in and out of these kinds of buildings on any given day and it's terrifying to think that they were just going about their day, with no idea of the danger they were facing. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy, particularly the victims' families.  

Image via Getty Images

Topics: death  in the news  tragedy