Remains of Second Victim in Brooklyn Apartment Explosion is Found

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Investigators on Monday found the remains of a second victim in the wreckage of a three-story Brooklyn apartment building that was leveled in a gas explosion over the weekend, a city official said.

The discovery came during a second day of emergency workers’ painstakingly picking through debris to find what caused the devastating blast and the body of a missing woman, Francisca Figueroa, 48, believed to have been inside.

Several firefighters carried an orange stretcher on Monday from the hole in a row of nearly identical apartment buildings, where the small structure once stood on 13th Avenue near 42nd Street in the Borough Park neighborhood. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide information about the continuing inquiry into the explosion, said the body had yet to be identified.

Officials told relatives of Ms. Figueroa, who were standing near the scene, that the body would undergo DNA testing for a positive identification.

“We’re destroyed,” said Sara Diaz, the godmother to the youngest of Ms. Figueroa’s three children. “We’re destroyed.”

A preliminary investigation indicated that the explosion occurred in a second-floor apartment, where relatives said Ms. Figueroa, the owner of a beauty salon and a licensed cosmetologist, had been living until very recently. She had not been heard from since Saturday, the day of the explosion.

Throughout Monday, the authorities used heavy construction equipment to pull batches of debris from the pile and deposit them in the street for firefighters and police officers to inspect. They searched for remains and any evidence to support or disprove investigators’ working theory that a gas leak from an improperly removed stove led to the explosion just after 1 p.m. on Saturday. Ligia Puello, 64, who lived on the third floor, died in the blast. Thirteen people were injured.

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SOURCE: J. DAVID GOODMAN and REBECCA WHITE
The New York Times