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Blast debris obstructing investigators’ entry to East Harlem explosion site

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EAST HARLEM (PIX11) – As crews for a third straight day continued the process of removing debris from the East Harlem site where two buildings once stood, FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano informed the media that their search-and-recovery appears complete, nonetheless they’re not taking chances. “We had a report of eight people missing.  We have recovered eight victims, but we are still going to treat the site like there may have been somebody in there that was visiting that wasn’t reported missing.”

As to what exactly triggered the blast?  Commissioner Cassano said that it won’t be until Saturday, once all the debris is removed, that investigators will be able to view the burn patterns and examine the pipes to pinpoint the exact cause, “The bureau of fire investigation and the police department’s arson and explosion squad will get down there and then the NTSB will do some of their investigation,” said Commissioner Cassano.

East Harlem the investigation

As for how impacted families are coping? “There is an extraordinary spirit and will when you talk to the victims of this tragedy,” said Mayor de Blasio.

De Blasio met with the victims shortly before noon at the Salvation Army on 125th Street where he received a number of questions by those were affected.  PIX 11 News asked the mayor if any were in regards to the investigation, “The concerns that the family have are for their family members, their children to get the help they need right now.”

The mayor made it clear to the more than 200 people who were at the Salvation Army that the city is doing everything they can to support them.  This includes putting some families into temporary housing as early as Friday night.

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito lives a few blocks away from the explosion.  For her, she said, this week has been personal as well professional, and considering what the scene was like more than 48 hours ago, she is proud to see various sectors of the city provide support to families who lost everything, “Great response to see the private sector collaborating with the public sector to find lodging for the people impacted.”