WATCH: Hell Breaks Loose in Harlem: Death Toll Rises to 7 in Blast; Some Victims Still Being Searched For

Again, we at BCNN1 ask, why are there so many explosions happening across America all of a sudden?

Seven people are now confirmed dead in an explosion that leveled two buildings in East Harlem as crews work to remove mountains debris in a desperate search to find any victims who may still be trapped in the rubble.

Firefighters were putting out hot spots at the scene of the explosion Thursday morning on Park Avenue and 116th Street as thick smoke continued to waft through the neighborhood.

Rescuers found three bodies on Wednesday and four more between midnight and Thursday morning. More than 60 people were also injured in the blast and at least nine are still missing.


Using backhoes and a bulldozer, crews worked through the night under bright searchlights in hopes of finding someone alive.

“This is a difficult job, a challenging job,” FDNY spokesman Jim Long said, calling it “a very terrible and traumatic scene.”

The sudden explosion rocked the East Harlem neighborhood just after 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, bringing down two, five-story buildings that housed a church, a piano store and more than a dozen apartments.

The blast hurled bricks, glass and other debris across the neighborhood and onto nearby Metro-North tracks and sent flames and thick smoke billowing into the air.

Witnesses said the explosion could be heard up to 40 blocks away.

“It sounded like a bomb,” one witness said.

Residents and emergency responders wore masks to protect themselves against the thick haze of smoke as firefighters worked to put out the flames.

Among the dead are 45-year-old Griselde Camacho, 67-year-old Carmen Tanco and Rosaura Hernandez-Barrios, 21. Mexican officials identified another one of the victims as Rosaura Barrios Vazquez, 43.

Authorities said the bodies of three men who have not yet been identified were also pulled from the rubble.

“This is a tragedy of the worst kind because there was no indication in time to save people,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

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The number of people killed from the massive explosion believed to be due to leaking gas that leveled two East Harlem apartment buildings is continuing to rise, New York fire officials said early Thursday.

The death toll has now reached six, with at least one body being pulled from the rubble overnight. Scores are injured and a search for other possible victims missing is still going on.

New York City fire officials said at least 60 people were hurt.

Police said two women believed to be in their 40s were among the dead. Hunter College identified one as Griselde Camacho, a security officer who had worked for the college since 2008.

Earlier, fire officials said nine people were unaccounted for. Mayor Bill de Blasio cautioned that the missing may not have been in the building.

Standing outside a scene of twisted, smoking devastation, de Blasio said preliminary indications point to leaking gas as a cause.

“This is a tragedy of the worst kind because there was no indication in time to save people,” de Blasio said. “We have lost two people already.”

Some 200 firefighters worked to control the fire that followed the blast.

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SOURCE: Melanie Eversley and Doug Stanglin

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