Bomb squad removes suspicious device as probe begins into Manhattan explosion that injured 29

There was no evidence of terrorism in New York blast in Chelsea, but it was intentional, mayor Bill de Blasio says

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 September, 2016, 10:40am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 September, 2016, 4:19pm

Police have removed a suspicious device from a Manhattan location four blocks from the site of an explosion that injured more than two dozen people.

The New York Police Department said Sunday that the pressure-cooker device attached to wiring and a cellphone has been safely removed from West 27th Street by the bomb squad. Police say it was to be taken to the department firing range in the Bronx.

Police had earlier advised residents on the block where the device was found to stay away from windows facing 27th Street.

Earlier, an explosion rocked the block of West 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Officials said 29 people were injured. Most of the injuries were minor.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the explosion that rocked New York’s neighbourhood of Chelsea has no terror connection at this point but was intentional.

Twenty-nine people were injured in the blast, one of them in a serious condition, officials said.

A law enforcement official also said that the explosion appears to have come from a construction toolbox in front of a building.

Photos from the scene show a twisted and crumpled black metal box.

Of the 29 people wounded in the incident, 24 have been taken to hospitals with various degrees of scrapes and abrasions from glass and metal, said Fire Department commissioner Daniel Nigro.

The blast occurred at about between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue on 23rd Street, a major east-west thoroughfare in the fashionable downtown neighbourhood of Chelsea, J. Peter Donald, a deputy commissioner with the New York Police Department, said.

The White House said US President Barack Obama has been appraised of the explosion and will be updated as additional information becomes available.

Both Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her opponent, Donald Trump, have referred to the explosion as a bombing, a description authorities didn’t use publicly in the early hours of the investigation.

Watch: Clinton, Trump react to New York Blast

Clinton said she has been briefed “about the bombings in New York and New Jersey and the attack in Minnesota.”

She says the nation needs to support its first responders and “pray for the victims.”

“We have to let this investigation unfold,” she said.

Trump had just arrived in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a rally Saturday night when he said “a bomb” had gone off in New York City and that “nobody knows what’s going on.”

The explosion, described by one neighbour 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.

Hundreds of people were seen fleeing down the block on a cool early autumn evening, as police cordoned off the area.

“It was really loud, it hurt my eardrums. My 10-year-old boy was sat in the back seat of the car, and the explosion blew the back window out,” said Tsi Tsi Mallett, who was in a car driving along 23rd Street when the explosion took place. Her son was not injured.

Neha Jain, 24, who lives in the neighbourhood, said she was sitting in her room watching a movie when she suddenly heard a huge boom and everything shook.

“Pictures on my wall fell, the window curtain came flying as if there was a big gush of wind. Then we could smell smoke. Went downstairs to see what happened and firemen immediately told us to go back.”

New York City Police issued a bulletin advising motorists in the area that they should “expect extensive traffic delays and emergency personnel in the area of 23rd Street and 7th Avenue” due to police activity there and asking the public to avoid the area.

Earlier Saturday, a pipe bomb exploded in a plastic trash in along the route of a charity road race in the New Jersey beach town of Seaside Park, but no injuries were reported in what authorities believe was a deliberate attack.

Additional reporting by Associated Press