Two New York City buildings collapsed on Wednesday in an explosion believed to be caused by a gas leak, killing three people, injuring at least 36, and setting off a search for more victims feared trapped in the rubble, officials said.
The blast, which scattered debris across nearby rooftops, brought down the neighbouring five-story buildings, with a total of 15 apartments, at about 9:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) on a largely residential Upper Manhattan block at East 116th Street and Park Avenue.
Clouds of thick smoke billowed from the rubble of the apartment buildings that sat above a ground-level church and a piano store in a largely Latino working-class neighbourhood. Officials declined to give a number of people still missing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who rushed to the scene in East Harlem, where a cascade of twisted and burnt metal blocked the sidewalk and covered parked cars, said preliminary information showed the explosion was caused by a gas leak.