Man­hat­tan ex­plo­sion

●Au­thor­i­ties call NY ex­plo­sion a bomb­ing, say mo­tive un­known

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Photo: AP

Po­lice and fire­fight­ers work near the scene of an ap­par­ent ex­plo­sion in Man­hat­tan’s Chelsea neigh­bour­hood, in New York, yes­ter­day. A law en­force­ment of­fi­cial tells The As­so­ci­ated Press that an ex­plo­sion in the Chelsea neigh­bour­hood ap­pears to have come from a con­struc­tion tool­box in front of a build­ing. The of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the per­son was not au­tho­rised to speak about an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. More than two dozen peo­ple have sus­tained mi­nor in­juries in the ex­plo­sion on West 23rd Street.

An ex­plo­sion rocked a crowded Man­hat­tan neigh­bour­hood and in­jured 29 peo­ple, and a sus­pi­cious de­vice dis­cov­ered blocks away was safely re­moved early yes­ter­day. Mayor Bill de Bla­sio ruled out any ter­ror con­nec­tions but called the blast an “in­ten­tional act.”

“Tonight, New York City ex­pe­ri­enced a very bad in­ci­dent,” de Bla­sio said. “We have no cred­i­ble and spe­cific threat at this mo­ment.”

De Bla­sio tried to calm any fears among ner­vous New York­ers, say­ing the ex­plo­sion had no ter­ror­ist con­nec­tion and wasn’t re­lated to a pipe bomb ex­plo­sion ear­lier on Satur­day in New Jersey that forced the can­cel­la­tion of a char­ity run.

“Now, I want to be clear: What­ever the cause, what­ever the in­ten­tion here, New York­ers will not be in­tim­i­dated,” the Demo­cratic mayor said. “We are not go­ing to let any­one change who we are or how we go about our lives.”

The ex­plo­sion hap­pened in Chelsea, a pri­mar­ily res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood on Man­hat­tan’s west side that’s known for its art gal­leries and large gay pop­u­la­tion.

It was un­clear who was be­hind the blast and what mo­ti­vated it.

A law en­force­ment of­fi­cial told The As­so­ci­ated Press that a sec­ond de­vice that of­fi­cers in­ves­ti­gated four blocks from the scene ap­peared to be a pres­sure cooker at­tached to wiring and a cell­phone. The of­fi­cial, who was not au­tho­rised to speak about an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion and who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, said the de­vice was found in­side a plas­tic bag on West 27th Street. The de­vice was re­moved with a ro­bot and taken to a depart­ment fir­ing range in the Bronx.

The law en­force­ment of­fi­cial also said that the ex­plo­sion that rocked a bustling Chelsea neigh­bour­hood ap­peared to have come from a con­struc­tion tool­box in front of a build­ing. Pho­tos from the scene show a twisted and crum­pled black metal box.

The blast hap­pened on West 23rd Street, in front of a res­i­dence for the blind, near a ma­jor thor­ough­fare with many restau­rants and a Trader Joe’s su­per­mar­ket. Wit­nesses said the ex­plo­sion at about 8.30 pm blew out the win­dows of busi­nesses and scat­tered de­bris.

The Fire Depart­ment of New York said 29 peo­ple were in­jured, and 24 peo­ple were taken to hos­pi­tals. One per­son re­ceived a punc­ture wound that was con­sid­ered se­ri­ous. The other in­juries were de­scribed as scrapes and bruises.

New York City sub­way routes were af­fected by the ex­plo­sion, which rat­tled some New York­ers and vis­i­tors on the heels of the 15th an­niver­sary of the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

Chris Gon­za­lez, vis­it­ing from Dal­las, was hav­ing din­ner with friends at a restau­rant in the area.

“We felt it. We heard it,” Gon­za­lez said. “It wasn’t like jolt­ing or any­thing. Ev­ery­one just went quiet.”

Rudy Al­cide, a bouncer at Van­ity Night­club at 21st Street and 6th Av­enue, said he, at first, thought some­thing large had fallen.

“It was an ex­tremely loud noise. Ev­ery­thing was shak­ing, the win­dows were shak­ing,” he said. “It was ex­tremely loud, al­most like thun­der but louder.”

The FBI and Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, along with the Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives ar­son and ex­plo­sive task force, were at the scene. Demo­cratic Gover­nor An­drew Cuomo toured the site yes­ter­day.

The White House said Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was ap­prised of the ex­plo­sion.

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton said the na­tion needs to sup­port its first re­spon­ders and “pray for the vic­tims.”

“We have to let this in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­fold,” she said.

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump moved ahead of New York City of­fi­cials when he de­clared a “bomb went off” be­fore of­fi­cials had re­leased de­tails. He made the an­nounce­ment min­utes af­ter step­ping off his plane in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I must tell you that just be­fore I got off the plane a bomb went off in New York and no­body knows what’s go­ing on,” Trump said.

He con­tin­ued, “But boy we are liv­ing in a time — we bet­ter get very tough, folks. We bet­ter get very, very tough. It’s a ter­ri­ble thing that’s go­ing on in our world, in our coun­try and we are go­ing to get tough and smart and vig­i­lant.”

A spokeswoman for Trump didn’t re­spond to an email ask­ing whether he was briefed about it be­fore tak­ing the stage.

The Man­hat­tan blast came hours af­ter a pipe bomb ex­ploded in Sea­side Park, New Jersey, shortly be­fore thou­sands of run­ners were due to par­tic­i­pate in a char­ity 5K race to ben­e­fit marines and sailors. The run was can­celed, and no in­juries were re­ported.

Also Satur­day, at least eight peo­ple were in­jured at a shop­ping mall in St Cloud, Min­nesota, in a stab­bing at­tack. The sus­pect was shot dead by an off-duty po­lice of­fi­cer. The po­lice chief said the sus­pect asked at least one vic­tim if he or she was Mus­lim.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Man­hat­tan ex­plo­sion came as world lead­ers descend on the United Na­tions for a meet­ing Mon­day to ad­dress the refugee cri­sis and the Syr­ian con­flict. The blast site is about two miles away.

What­ever the cause, what­ever the in­ten­tion here, New York­ers will not be in­tim­i­dated. We are not go­ing to let any­one change who we are or how we go about our lives

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