NY City building collapses after explosion13 March 2014 BBC Online
New York City emergency crews are responding to an explosion and building collapse that has reportedly injured 11 people.
Smoke is billowing from the scene of the incident in East Harlem.
Residents reported hearing a blast in the five-storey apartment building at 116th Street and Park Avenue before it caved in.
All train services in and out of Grand Central terminal have been halted following the incident near its tracks.
The New York fire department has elevated the incident to the highest threat level possible.
It announced it has dispatched 168 members from more than three dozen nearby fire stations to battle the blaze.
Local media report 11 people suffered minor injuries, while a nearby hospital said it had received one patient with heavy trauma.
The local utility has been called to shut off the gas following the explosion,which damaged windows in the area, reports WABC TV.
"It was an explosion and a building collapsed," a spokesman for New York Police Department told AFP news agency.
A witness told the New York Daily News she had smelled gas "for weeks" before the explosion.
"We saw people flying out of the window... those are my neighbours," Ashley Rivera said.
Another witness told the newspaper he heard two loud explosions that shook the barber shop where he works.
"It was loud, like boom, boom!" Mitch Abreu said. "It rocked the whole block.
"A window blew out of the other shop down the street," he added.
"It looked like the [Twin] towers all over again. People covered in dust and covering their mouths."