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Investigators Locate Gas Main Leak At East Harlem Explosion Site

Woman Trapped In Van Reunites With Her Rescuer

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Investigators have found a leak in the gas main on Park Avenue adjacent to the site of last week’s deadly East Harlem explosion, confirming what many suspected was the source of the blast.

The NTSB released an update Tuesday saying the 8-inch cast iron and plastic main between 116th and 117th streets failed a pressure test and that tracer gas pumped into the main exposed the leak.

It’s still not clear what ignited the spewing gas.

Investigators have been testing service lines to neighboring buildings, but have found no significant problems, the NTSB said. Con Edison and the city are working to restore gas to the buildings.

The NTSB and the city said they will use a camera to check inside water and sewer pipes. That information, along with parts of the pipeline, are being sent to Washington as part of the investigation.

PHOTOS: East Harlem Explosion | Explosion Aftermath

When NTSB investigators first arrived on the scene, they raised concerns about the gas lines, which are more than 120 years old, 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported..

Bob Ackley, a gas industry expert, told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman that it normally takes up to a few days to build up enough gas to explode. “But it can happen very quickly with the right conduits into the building,” he added.

Investigators are also look at a cracked water main. The question is did it break or after the explosion. Ackley said gushing water could have weakened or broken the gas main.

Wednesday’s explosion left eight people dead and more than 60 others injured.

The blast leveled two buildings and hurled bricks, glass and other debris across the neighborhood.

The medical examiner said Monday that seven victims died from either blunt trauma or smoke inhalation. Results were still pending on the eighth victim.

Meanwhile, nearly a week after the tragedy, stories of survival were still emerging.

As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, 79-year-old Edlene Moseley was reunited Tuesday with the man who rescued her.

Moseley was on her way to receive dialysis when she became trapped in an ambulette van as the two buildings collapsed just yards away. The driver of the van, she said, abandoned her.

“I see the driver got through the door, and he ran,” Moseley told Burrell. “I was left back there.

“What I was thinking was, Lord, I don’t want to die like this,” Moseley said.

Moseley said help may never have come if not for Sammy Carrasquillo, who was taking cellphone video of the chaos. Carrasquillo, fighting the choking air, stayed with Moseley until firefighters arrived.

“I wasn’t going to leave her by herself,” Carrasquillo said.

“I just pictured my grandmother in my head,” Carrasquillo said. “I was like, ‘Grandma, we’ve got to go.'”

Sammy Carrasquillo and Edlene Moseley (credit: CBS 2)

Sammy Carrasquillo and Edlene Moseley (credit: CBS 2)

Ed Rosenthal, owner of the ambulette company REM Transportation, said the van’s driver left to find help for Moseley.

“He went to find to someone because the lady was kind of overweight,” Rosenthal said. “He couldn’t pretty much do something by himself, and he went to look for help. That’s what he said.”

Moseley and Carrasquillo said they are focusing on moving forward as each other’s surrogate family.

“For me now, she’s my grandmother,” Carrasquillo said.

“He was there at the right time, to save me,” Moseley said. “And I thank God for him, and I love him from the depths of my heart.”

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