NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Thursday marked one year since a gas explosion brought two buildings to the ground in East Harlem – killing eight people and injuring dozens more.
As CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reported, a memorial service marked the somber anniversary of the explosion at 116th Street and Park Avenue. Five women and three men died: George Amadeo, 44; Rosaura Barrios, 43; her daughter, Rosaura Barrios Hernandez, 22; Griselde Camacho, 44; Mayumi Nakamura, 34; Andreas Panagopoulos, 43; Alexis Jordy Salas, 22; and Carmen Tanco, 67;
Their families and friends had their own painful memories of that day.
About 50 of the victims’ family members were in attendance, along with Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials. Many family members carried a single white rose.
“A year ago, this whole city was rocked by this tragedy,” de Blasio said. “Without warning, a gas leak sparked an explosion and literally for so many families, their worlds changed in just an instant.”
Milagros Valentin remembered how she felt her building shake.
“It was terrible,” Valentin said. “All I could do was cry, cry, cry — not knowing that one of my friends was there.”
Victor Garcia lost his brother.
“I just remember the flames — just thinking about that,” Garcia said. “I wish that he was not in the building at the time.”
Angel Vargas of the Bronx said his cousin, Carmen Tanco, was “a wonderful person.” She was a dental assistant who participated in church-sponsored medical missions to Africa and the Caribbean.
“This is where we used to come for family events when we were little, since we were like 8 or 9 years old,” he told 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa.
Nilda Aguila said there’s sadness, but her cousin, Griselde Camacho, has gone to a better place.
“I know she doesn’t have asthma anymore, she’s healthy,” she told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane. “It’s been very mixed emotions.”
One man whose business was destroyed in the blast has since rebuilt, but he still thinks of the victims.
“One of them, George Amadeo, used to greet me from his window every morning,” he told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “I miss that terribly.”
Families and city leaders gathered around a new tree honoring the victims for a moment of silence. The cherry tree, which will soon blossom, was donated by the Urban Garden Center across the street at 1640 Park Ave. — destroyed in the blast and since rebuilt under the Metro-North Harlem Line tracks.