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No More Missing in Rubble of N.Y. Explosion, Death Toll at 8

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Police said Friday that no one else is missing in the smoldering rubble of two buildings that were leveled by a gas explosion in upper Manhattan two days ago, killing eight people and injuring more than 70 others.

Workers said Thursday night they were about 40 to 50 percent through the wreckage of the two five-story buildings that collapsed Wednesday morning at 116th Street and Park Avenue. Crews brought in a backhoe and a bulldozer for the search and used sound-detecting devices to check for signs of survivors overnight, while searchers poked telescopic video cameras into small voids in to see if anyone was buried in the rubble.

But police, who had said Thursday that three people remained missing, said Friday that no more people were believed to be lost in the ruins. The death toll remained at eight.

Read more at NBC New York

The FDNY said it would continue to use heavy equipment and high-tech gear to sift through the rubble as firefighters search for any potential victims who may not have been reported missing.

FDNY Chief of Department Edward Kilduff told de Blasio as the mayor visited workers in the rubble that most of the victims were found about 20 feet into the pile, on the left side. Officials said the two buildings were reduced to a pile about three stories high.

Officials cautioned the firefighting and cleanup process would take time. Jim Long, an FDNY spokesman, said acrid smoke, high winds and cold temperatures complicated efforts Thursday.

The NTSB, which probes pipeline explosions as well as transportation disasters, says the cause of the explosion appears to be a gas leak -- but surprisingly, the pipe in question is still intact.

"That's unlike other pipeline accidents that I've been to where the pipe is thrown out of a crater," said Robert Sumwalt of the NTSB. "This pipe is still in the ground."

Investigators haven't been able to get a close look at the low-pressure service line, which delivers natural gas for cooking and heat to the buildings that exploded. NTSB says it will examine Con Edison's handling of customer complaints, the oversight of Con Edison by federal and state officials, and any evidence of possible third-party damage from digging, among other things.

Image: Death Toll Rises To 8 After East Harlem Building Explosion
Firefighters remove debris from the smoking site of an explosion in East Harlem on March 13, 2014 in New York City. At least 8 people were killed, according to reports, in Wednesday's explosion which collapsed two buildings on Park Avenue at 116th Street.Kena Betancur / Getty Images

The Red Cross said nearly 70 people, half of them children, are displaced and are staying at the Salvation Army.

Seven of the eight victims killed in the explosion have been identified as Griselde Camacho, 44, Carmen Tanco, 67, Rosaura Hernandez, 22, Andreas Panagopoulos, 43, Rosaura Barrios Vazquez, 43, Alexis Salas, 22, and George Amadeo, 44. The eighth victim has not been identified.

More than 70 people were hurt.

The Department of Environmental Protection is monitoring air quality in the area. As high winds kicked up more debris and smoke Thursday, the mayor said the Health Department is recommending residents in the immediate area limit time outside and keep their windows closed.

Image:
Crews using heavy machinery work the site of a building explosion in New York, Friday, March 14, 2014. Using sound devices to probe for voices and telescopic cameras to peer into small spaces, workers searching a pile of rubble from a gas explosion in the East Harlem section of Manhattan.Seth Wenig / AP

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