One dead in underground steam pipe explosion in NYC

Officials say blast not related to terrorism; tests will determine if asbestos release is a concern.

July 19, 2007 06:11
2 minute read.
jpost services and tools

jp.services2. (photo credit: )


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


An underground steam pipe explosion tore through a Manhattan street near Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday, spewing a towering geyser of steam and airborne rubble and killing one person as hundreds of people fled in scenes reminscent of the 9/11 panic. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the explosion was not terrorism, though the blast caused a brief panic about a possible attack. "There is no reason to believe whatsoever that this is anything other than a failure of our infrastructure," he said of the 24-inch (61-centimeter) steam pipe that had been installed in 1924. Eighteen people were taken to local hospitals, officials said. One person was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital from an apparent heart attack, Bloomberg said. Two were in critical condition and another two were seriously injured. The others suffered minor injuries. The explosion caused widespread chaos as residents and commuters heard a huge blast - and feared for the worst. Thousands of commuters evacuated the train terminal, some at a run, after workers yelled for people to get out of the building. A titanic geyser of steam and mud shot from the center of the blast, generating a tremendous roar. The initial burst of steam rose higher than the nearby 77-story Chrysler Building, one of Manhattan's tallest buildings. The air near the site was filled with debris. Debbie Tontodonato, 40, a manager for Clear Channel Outdoor, said she thought the rumble from the 6 p.m. (2200 gmt) explosion was thunder. "I looked out the window and I saw these huge chunks that I thought were hail," she said. "We panicked, I think everyone thought the worst. Thank God it wasn't. It was like a cattle drive going down the stairs, with everyone pushing. I almost fell down the stairs." Streets were closed in several blocks in all directions. Subway service in the area was suspended. There were also concerns about what was spewed into the air. Some of the pipes carrying steam through the city are wrapped in asbestos. "The big fear that we have is there may or may not have been asbestos release," Bloomberg said. Officials would not know until test results until later, the mayor said, but if there was a release it may have washed away with the water that came with the steam. The steam cleared around 8 p.m. (0000 GMT), exposing a crater several feet (meters) wide in the street. A red tow truck lay at the bottom of the hole. Con Edison spokesman Chris Olert said workers were still trying to determine what caused the blast.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

GAL GADOT as 'Shank' in 'Ralph Breaks the Internet'
November 20, 2018
‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ and Gal Gadot praised by critics