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New York Governor: Blast That Injured 29 'An Act of Terrorism'

  • VOA Staff

Police in New York are appealing to the public for information after an explosion in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea injured 29 people late Saturday. Authorities called the blast "an intentional act."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo labeled the incident an "act of terrorism" at a news conference on Sunday morning, but specified that there is no evidence of "international terrorism." New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio described the explosion as "deliberate."

An additional 1,000 police and National Guard troops will be patrolling the city's public transportation system "just to err on the side of caution," Cuomo said.

He added that all 29 victims have been released from the hospital.

IN PICTURES: From the scene of the New York blast

The explosion outside 131 West 23rd Street around 8:30 p.m. left debris and glass strewn throughout the streets and caused significant property damage. Images from the scene and from closed circuit cameras around the blast show the windows blown out of cars and storefronts as pedestrians scrambled for safety.

The bomb detonated in a bustling neighborhood filled with bars, restaurants and residences during an especially busy time for the most populated city in the U.S., as world leaders arrive in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly this week. Police have restricted foot traffic through the scene.

Area resident Michelle Katz said she was in bed when something sounded "like a bomb exploding or a truck driving into a building."

Two minutes later, "there were endless sirens," Katz told VOA.

A fire crew works at the scene of an explosion in New York's Manhattan borough, Sept. 17, 2016. (C. Mendoza/VOA)

A fire crew works at the scene of an explosion in New York's Manhattan borough, Sept. 17, 2016. (C. Mendoza/VOA)

Subway and bus service passing the area was halted, and police closed off a large area of midtown Manhattan to all traffic. Hundreds of police and firefighters were at the scene of the explosion.

Police said they had video of the explosion recorded by surveillance cameras, but they did not discuss details of the images.

New York authorities are also investigating an unexploded device found at West 27th Street, blocks from where the explosion occurred. Bomb squad personnel safely removed a device that appeared to be a pressure cooker attached to a cell phone and wires in a plastic bag.

A police officer gives instructions to a passer-by as other police and fire crews work near the scene of an explosion in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, Sept. 17, 2016. (C. Mendoza/VOA)

A police officer gives instructions to a passer-by as other police and fire crews work near the scene of an explosion in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, Sept. 17, 2016. (C. Mendoza/VOA)

The New York blast came hours after a pipe bomb exploded in a trash bin in a New Jersey beach town Saturday 135 kilometers away, forcing the cancellation of a charity foot race involving thousands of runners.

DeBlasio and Cuomo have said the two incidents were unrelated. No injuries were reported in Seaside Park, New Jersey, but race organizers called off the five-kilometer race meant to raise money for U.S. military personnel. Authorities said three pipe-bomb-type devices wired together were found near the boardwalk. Only one of the devices is believed to have detonated.

Cuomo said authorities "will prosecute" the New York explosion as a terrorist activity.

"We're fortunate that this didn't happen during the week, like a work day, a Monday or Tuesday," said Steven Faria, who works at a veterans' hospital nearby and came from his home in Queens to see the scene of the blast on his day off. "With all the people that work in this area, I think the casualties would have been twice as many people."

"I walk by here virtually every day. You just don't know what's going to happen anymore. You could be walking by, there could be explosions, you could get hit by debris... who knows," Faria added. "It's a scary time."

VOA reporters Esha Sarai, Ramon Taylor, and Steve Herman contributed to this report from New York.

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