NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s been one week since the deadly explosion in East Harlem, as investigators say they’ve found the source of a gas leak near the site of the blast that killed eight people and injured dozens more.
Community and religious leaders held a moment of silence at 9:31 a.m. Wednesday to mark the passing of one week since the explosion.
A prayer breakfast was held at A New Beginning International Ministry for dozens of those who still cannot return to their homes. Pastor Dominick Reyes provided counseling at the breakfast.
“You allow them to weep, you hold their hands, you tell them you’re here, and if they’re angry and they just want to blow up, let them blow up for a moment and then assist them to just pick up the pieces,” Reyes told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
East Harlem We Stand, a group formed out of the tragedy, is collecting and distributing donations of food and clothing, founder Clark Pena said.
“We will recover,” Pena said. “It will take some time, but we will recover.”
On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed a gas leak in the immediate area and said the troubled 8-inch cast iron pipe connected to one of the two buildings that collapsed failed a pressure test.
But board spokesman Eric Weiss said investigators still don’t know what sparked the explosion.
“We don’t determine the probable cause until the very, very end,” he said.
Workers from the NTSB and Con Edison are now excavating the pipe, cutting it into segments and shipping them to a lab in Washington D.C. for more tests.
Investigators are also running a camera probe inside the water and sewer pipes to gather additional evidence.
The sudden explosion last Wednesday rocked East Harlem just after 9:30 a.m., about 15 minutes after someone reported smelling gas in a neighboring building, authorities said.
The blast brought down two five-story buildings that housed a church, a piano store and more than a dozen apartments, and hurled bricks, glass and other debris across the neighborhood.
Witnesses said the explosion could be heard up to 40 blocks away. More than 100 residents were also displaced by the blast.
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, pressure is mounting on Con Ed as the first lawsuits related to the explosion were filed this week against the company.
On Wednesday, Con Ed had a full-page newspaper ad warning people when they smell gas to act fast.
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