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NYC blast injures 29; 2nd device appears to be pressure cooker

Posted at 9:33 PM, Sep 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-18 06:27:22-04

NEW YORK — An explosion ripped through the Chelsea neighborhood in New York City Saturday night injuring dozens and a second device with wiring was found blocks away, authorities say.

Police officers and federal agents were scouring the streets with flashlights, robots, and dogs to ensure there were no other devices in the area.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters early indications are that the explosion at 23rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan that injured 29 “was an intentional act.” 

Investigators believe the blast was caused by an explosive device in or near a dumpster, a law enforcement source told CNN.

Police have video from businesses on the street where the explosion occurred, which could yield key details about the hours before the attack. 

Investigators are looking at surveillance video appearing to show a person near where the explosion at the 23rd street location occurred, according to a local and federal law enforcement official. Investigators are trying to determine if that individual is connected to the explosion.

De Blasio says “there is no evidence at this point of a terror connection” and there is no “credible and specific threat” to New York City. Police have increased security across the five boroughs as a precaution, a law enforcement source told CNN.

Ambulances arriving at some local hospitals were being checked by armed guards.

24 people were taken to the hospital after the explosion, but “none of those injured are likely to die,” the mayor says.

De Blasio says they also believe there is no specific connection to an earlier incident in New Jersey, where an explosion went off in a garbage can on the route of a Marine Corps charity run.

A second device blocks away

As first responders converged on the explosion site and began blocking off streets in the Chelsea neighborhood, attention soon turned to a second device.

Blocks away from the first explosion, what appears to be a pressure cooker with dark colored wiring coming out of the top center of the device was found, according to multiple local and federal law enforcement officials.

The device is connected by silver duct tape to a small dark colored device attached to the outside of the pressure cooker, according to multiple local and federal law enforcement officials.

None of the officials would say at this point what was inside the pressure cooker.

CNN has viewed an image of the device verifying the description.

Some residents in the area say they were told to stay away from windows when police were searching the area.

Police combed the second location with flashlights, looking under cars, looking in trash cans and looking in doorways, CNN’s Richard Quest reports.

Witness: ‘Everybody started running’

Surveillance video from the explosion in Chelsea shows windows shattered with terrified people running on the streets and ducking. The video, which shows angles from inside and outside Orangetheory Fitness in Chelsea, shows a screen laying outside on the street after the explosion and what appears to be papers flying in the air.

Ryan McMillen told the New York Daily News he was entering the 23rd Street subway station when he felt and heard the blast.

“Everybody started running and screaming,” McMillen said.

McMillen said he saw the back of an SUV “totally blown out.”

Danilo Gabrielli, a 50-year-old Chelsea resident, was at his 23rd street apartment about a block away from the explosion site.

Gabrielli told CNN he heard the explosion around 8:30 p.m.

“I was home watching TV. It was a huge explosion. It shook the entire apartment building. It was pretty big. I was walking outside toward 23rd between 5th and 6th. People from my building and I were literally the first people there. Then firemen came from every direction come in. NYPD came from every direction. They blocked off the area.”

Gabrielli walked towards the scene of the explosion from his apartment.

“It was very chaotic. We smelled something, like an intense sulfur smell, and saw smoke coming out of this building. I saw pieces of metal — not large, but not small either. A few friends of mine saw glass there.”

Gabrielli says “the entire neighborhood is real scared.”

“It’s a real quiet neighborhood — not like the center of the city or the Wall Street area. It’s tiny bars, where you go to grab a drink, grab a bite to eat, watch a film. We were worried.”

An eyewitness told CNN affiliate NY1 he was having dinner when the explosion rocked the area.

“[I] felt a loud explosion and I felt like a lightning bolt struck the building. It, like, shook the ground,” he told NY1. “Everybody ran out of the restaurant into the street. The whole city was in the street.”

He says the response by police who swarmed the area was “aggressive” but “controlled.”

The man told NY1 he lives in the neighborhood and knows it well.

“I walk down the street every day. … This is my main thoroughfare. I’m either in an Uber, a cab, or on foot on this street all the time. This is my neighborhood. This isn’t a tourist attraction. It’s just the middle of the city. It does frighten me.”

Some social media users said the sound of the explosion was heard as far away as Hoboken, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Chelsea.

Chelsea is packed with restaurants, subway stations, shops, businesses and art galleries and normally buzzing on a weekend night. 23rd street, where the explosion occurred, is in the heart of Chelsea, CNN’s Richard Quest explains. It is not as bohemian as many have thought in previous times, Quest says. He notes Chelsea is one of the most expensive areas in the city now because of wealthy people moving to the area. Chelsea is also still very much regarded and known for its inclusion of the gay community and the gay bars in the area, Quest says. He notes one of the most famous fashion colleges, FIT, is just blocks away.

Explosion rocks Chelsea Saturday night. (Photo: Adie Kriegstein)

Explosion rocks Chelsea Saturday night. (Photo: Adie Kriegstein)