NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Emergency responders rushed to Northern Boulevard in Queens after officials say a street collapse caused a gas and water main to rupture under the heavily trafficked roadway Friday afternoon.

The FDNY said the street buckled around 2 p.m. and caused both a 24-inch natural gas main and water line to burst near the intersection of Northern Boulevard and 114th Street in Corona.

The collapse and ensuing explosion prompted police to block traffic from 110th to 114th Streets.

Drivers who spoke with CBS2 say they were travelling through the intersection when the ground “exploded” and everything went black. They were so afraid, they ducked for cover in their cars.

“Like a bomb, like a tsunami,” one man described.

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“I heard like a big ‘boom, boom boom,’ and all you see is rocks,” witness Martin Tew said.

One woman was waiting for a bus by 112th Street when she noticed the concrete seemed unsteady. When the ground exploded, she said she was so close debris hit her face.

“The rocks were flying up the sky, the gas was flying out,” she said. “We know it because we could smell it.”

The Department of Buildings says a resident complained last month that “work at the site was causing cracks on the sidewalk and road.” Inspectors went to investigate the next day, and when they found the site wasn’t up to code they issued an immediate stop-work order officials say was in effect at the time of Friday’s rupture.

Con Ed said both pipes have been shut down and the gas capped.

For bus passengers travelling along the Q66 line, the NYPD says eastbound buses will reroute left on 108th Street and travel along Astoria Boulevard. Westbound passengers will gain access on Astoria Boulevard, and will turn left on 108th Street where they’ll continue along their normal Northern Boulevard route.

The FDNY says one person was taken to a nearby hospital in connection to the incident, which remains under investigation.

The DOB added every time inspectors returned to check on the site after issuing the stop-work order, they found it was properly locked and no work was being done.


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