168 firefighters are at the scene of the explosion

An explosion has triggered a building collapse and fire in New York City, killing at least two people and injuring 17 others.

The blast levelled two apartment buildings near Park Avenue and 116th Street in East Harlem.

One five-storey building appeared to be reduced to rubble, and images from the scene showed a second building severely damaged.

Officials have not confirmed whether there are people still trapped amid piles of debris.

Witnesses reported hearing a large explosion around 9am.


Debris rained down on the street and cars below.

Aerial footage showed a large plume of smoke billowing over the Upper Manhattan skyline and debris scattered across the pavement and vehicles parked on adjacent streets.

Sky News New York correspondent Hannah Thomas-Peter is at the scene and says she saw one person being removed on a stretcher.

She described an ?acrid smell? in the area and said people are wearing masks due to lingering smoke.

Witnesses say the blast was so powerful it knocked groceries off the shelves of nearby stores.

Eoin Hayes, 26, said the explosion shook his entire apartment building.

He said he ran to the window and saw flames consuming one building and smoke rising into the air.

?I was in my bedroom and the explosion went off, it kind of shook the whole building,? Mr Hayes said. ?You could feel the vibrations going through the building.?

The FDNY says it has nearly 200 personnel at the scene. The cause of the explosion was not immediately known.

Local electric and gas companies were shutting down service in the area.

Metro-North Railroad has suspended all commuter train service in the area. The train line runs along the scene of the collapse, and television footage showed some debris on the tracks.



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