Morning Security Brief: NYC Gas Leak Explosion Kills 7, Critical Infrastructure Concerns, and Missing Flight Update

By Lilly Chapa

 Seven people were killed and more than 60 were injured yesterday after two New York City buildings collapsed in an explosion caused by a gas leak, according to The Chicago Tribune. Officials continued sifting through the debris of the buildings in East Harlem overnight in search of additional victims, a process made difficult by acrid smoke, high winds, cold temperatures, and a sinkhole caused by a water main break. The five-story buildings had housed a church and piano repair store along with 15 apartment units, according to SF Gate. The explosion occurred just 15 minutes after a nearby resident called in complaining of a gas odor. Metro-North Railroad, which had shut down train traffic moving through Manhattan while it cleared debris from the tracks, announced in late afternoon it had restored all commuter rail service through the area. "This is a tragedy because there was no time to warn people ahead of time," New York mayor Bill de Blasio said. "We are expending every effort to locate each and every loved one."

Just hours before the massive explosion, the Center for an Urban Future released a study raising concerns about New York City’s aging infrastructure and what it means for the city. Critical infrastructure such as hospitals, subways, water mains, and street pavement are in desperate need of an upgrade, according to the report, and repairs need to be the top priority for the city. “In some cases, the infrastructure in New York is so old we don’t even know where it is under the street,” city planner and historian Alexander Garvin said in the report. “There can be a water main break in lower Manhattan and our engineers won’t be able to find it.” And the report noted that the city’s gas mains, which are an average of 60 years old, are largely made up of leak-prone unprotected steel.

Confusion continues to mount as Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 remains missing for a sixth day. U.S. aviation investigators believe that the plane may have continued flying for hours after it disappeared from the radar, but Malaysian officials said the inference is inaccurate. The plane’s engines have an onboard monitoring system supplied by their manufacturer, Rolls-Royce PLC, which periodically sends bursts of data about aircraft operations to facilities on the ground. Malaysia Airlines is working with Rolls-Royce to analyze the data, but it appears that no transmissions were received after 1:07 a.m. Saturday. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane at 1:30 a.m. And Malaysian officials are still investigating whether a radar blip heading west soon after the plane lost contact was the missing jet, according to CNN. But if it was, the plane would have been hundreds of miles off its original flight path and heading in the wrong direction.


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