News

Blasting Goes Awry Along 2nd Avenue Subway; Buildings, Sidewalk Damaged

Workers at the scene of a blast on 72nd Avenue and 2nd Avenue following a blast gone awry on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Workers at the scene of a blast on 72nd Avenue and 2nd Avenue following a blast gone awry on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Blasting along Manhattan’s still-under-construction 2nd Avenue subway line caused some damage Tuesday afternoon. Now, authorities want to know if human error was to blame.

A controlled explosion happened at around 1 p.m. near East 72nd Street and 2nd Avenue, officials said. Something went wrong, and the blast caused damage to sidewalks and buildings, shattering some windows and sending smoke up to the street.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

“I felt like I was in Beirut. It could have been a terrorist blast, it could have been anything,” Susan Schuander told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

Schuander said she was in a nearby art gallery when the explosion happened.

“And I was just shaking, and just hit the floor,” she told Diamond.

Carol Cusa said the explosion knocked her off her chair as she sat in her 4th floor kitchen.

“I was thrown off-balance because the whole building shook,” Cusa told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.

Witnesses said the street was left covered with debris. The city’s Buildings Department said that inspectors and engineers inspected the surrounding buildings and determined there to be no structural damage.

At least six windows were damaged at 260 East 72nd St. Some debris did land on the rooftop of that building. Out of caution a vacate order was issued to an art gallery on the ground floor of the building, according to the Buildings Department.

“We were doing regular controlled blasts to try to clear rock to build the subway,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Adam Lisberg told 1010 WINS. “Something went awry and the explosion was felt street level.”

MTA bosses said the explosion took place 40 feet below street level as crews were making room for an escalator shaft.

“We have heard that there’s too much explosive use. We don’t have any reason to believe that,” Lisberg said.

In addition to the possibility of human error, sources said investigators also want to know if protective covering was put in place or was put in place improperly prior to the blast, CBS 2’s Hennessey reported.

2ndaveblast Blasting Goes Awry Along 2nd Avenue Subway; Buildings, Sidewalk Damaged

Workers at the scene of a blast on 72nd Avenue and 2nd Avenue following a blast gone awry. (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

“Saw a huge explosion. It spewed a cloud of debris across the entire intersection,” witness Scott Gottleib, who was in a taxi at the time, told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman. “Miraculously, nobody was hurt, but there’s debris spilled across the entire intersection. Very large chunks of concrete.”

FDNY and other emergency personnel responded to the scene.

broken window Blasting Goes Awry Along 2nd Avenue Subway; Buildings, Sidewalk Damaged

Broken store window on the corner of 72nd Street and 2nd Avenue. (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

Traffic along 2nd Avenue was not shut down, but some bus service was re-routed as a result.

“Obviously, what happened is unacceptable to us and we want to get to the bottom of it,” Lisberg told WCBS 880. “We will not be doing any more work here at 72nd Street until not only we understand what happened but we have a plan in place to make sure this never happens again.”

“The MTA will be investigating to figure out just exactly what went awry in this situation,” Lisberg told 1010 WINS.

Earlier this month, the MTA released a video of recent blasting:

Underground blasting at the location has been suspended until further notice, Hennessey reported.

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