An explosion rocked the bustling Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Saturday night, injuring at least 29 people, and authorities said they were investigating the blast as a criminal act not immediately linked to any terror organization.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials said investigators had ruled out a natural gas leak as the origin of the blast, but they stopped short of calling it a bombing and declined to specify precisely what they believed may have triggered the explosion. Police said a sweep of the neighborhood following the blast turned up a possible “secondary device” a short distance away. CNN, citing law enforcement sources, reported that it appeared to be a pressure cooker with wires attached to it and connected to what resembled a cell phone. A piece of paper with writing on it was found nearby, according to CNN’s account.
A joint task force also took the lead in investigating the New Jersey incident. A law enforcement source said an initial investigation suggested the Chelsea explosion occurred in a dumpster but the cause was still undetermined. CNN cited law enforcement sources as saying they believed an improvised explosive device caused the blast. President Barack Obama, who was attending a congressional dinner in Washington, “has been apprised of the explosion in New York City, the cause of which remains under investigation,” a White House official said. “The president will be updated as additional information becomes available,” the official added. New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said 29 people were hurt in the blast, and 24 of them had been taken to area hospitals, including one person he described as seriously injured. The rest suffered various cuts, scrapes and other minor injuries from shattered glass and other debris, Nigro said. The explosion, described by one neighbor as “deafening,” happened outside the Associated Blind Housing facility at 135 W. 23rd Street. The facility provides housing, training and other services for the blind.