As many as 29 people were today injured in an explosion that rocked New York’s busy and upscale neighbourhood also frequented by tourists, authorities said about the “intentional act”, hours before world leaders arrive here for the high-level UN General Assembly session.
The explosion – which came hours after a pipe bomb went off in a garbage can in New Jersey – occurred in the Chelsea neighbourhood at 23rd St. and 6th Avenue around 8:30 pm (local time) yesterday.
The spot of the explosion is a busy residential and commercial area frequented by tourists and city residents. President Barack Obama has been apprised of the explosion, a White House official said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the number of people injured is now 29 but none is life threatening except for one who is in “serious” condition. A second Manhattan site is under investigation, Blasio said while addressing a press conference at the scene.
The Mayor described the explosion as an “intentional act” but said there is no evidence at this point of a terror link. He said the city “experienced a very serious incident” and injuries are significant but added that there is “no evidence at this point of a terror connection” even as early indications suggest “this was an intentional act”.
“There is no specific and credible threat at this time from any terror organisation”, he said, adding he does not see a link to terrorism.
New York City new Police Commissioner James O Neill, who had his first day at the city’s police chief yesterday, said the “exact cause of the explosion has not yet been determined” and personnel from the police department, FBI, bomb squad and counter-terrorism departments are on the scene.
The Police Commissioner added that a “second site” is being treated at 27th street between 6th and 7th avenues by the police but did not provide more details.
The Mayor also said at this point there is “no specific connection” to the incident in New Jersey earlier in the day in which an explosion occurred in a garbage can. “We are not going to let anyone change us, intimidate us,” the mayor said.
Authorities said “extensive search” is being conducted in the area and the neighbourhood and ruled out gas as the reason for the explosion.
Security is already tight in the city as nearly 190 world leaders, including Obama, will arrive in the city for the about week-long high-level annual UN General Assembly session, beginning on Monday.
“The president has been apprised of the explosion in New York City, the cause of which remains under investigation. The president will be updated as additional information becomes available,” a White House official said.