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New York City Explosion Leaves At Least 29 Injured


Police and the FBI are trying to figure out how an explosion in New York City last night injured 29 people. The NYPD is also analyzing a secondary device found near the site. New York's mayor, Bill de Blasio, says so far there don't appear to be any links to terrorist groups.


BILL DE BLASIO: We have no credible and specific threat at this moment. But we do want to be very clear, the early indications is this was an intentional act.

MARTIN: NPR's Hansi Lo Wang has been following all of these developments, and he joins us now on the line from New York. Hansi, good morning.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: What do we know so far about what happened?

WANG: Well, we know this took place in Manhattan in the neighborhood of Chelsea, about a block away from the Flatiron Building. It was on 23rd Street, which is a very wide street - lots of restaurants, stores. And last night at about 8:30 p.m. Eastern, an explosion took place outside on the street. I spoke to an eyewitness, Leon Matthews of Brooklyn. He was just nearby. And here's what he said.

LEON MATTHEWS: Everything just shook around us. One minute everybody was shopping, the next minute everybody was running for their lives.

WANG: Now, we're still waiting for the police to confirm a lot of details. We don't know exactly what caused this explosion, what kind of device. We do know that, as you mentioned, there was a second device that was taken away about four blocks north of this explosion site, and it was discovered hours later. And so we're still waiting for more information.

MARTIN: A lot of unanswered questions at this hour. What are some of the threads that investigators are looking at?

WANG: Well, besides what exactly was used to cause the explosion, we don't know what exactly the connection is between the explosion and the secondary device. We don't know who did it. And police say they're looking, scanning through surveillance video. There was also - there was an - also another explosion in New Jersey earlier yesterday. A device exploded in a garbage pail, and right before a charity run for the Marine Corps. And it was in a town about an hour and a half away in New Jersey. And right now investigators say they're not sure if that was a coincidence or if there's something more, a connection between what happened in New York yesterday.

MARTIN: So we know at least 29 people were injured in the explosion that happened in the Chelsea neighborhood. Any information on those injuries?

WANG: Well, most of those people suffered from scrapes and abrasions from metal and glass from the explosion. We know that one person is in serious condition with a puncture. And as of last night, the fire department says none of those injuries were life-threatening.

MARTIN: Obviously, any time there's news of something like this happening in New York it's a difficult time for this city. They were marking only just a week ago the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. What's the vibe like in Manhattan right now?

WANG: You know, a lot of people who live nearby, who pass by are shaken up by what happened, can't believe that this happened on just, you know, what should've been a quiet Saturday night. And also, the explosion took place outside a home for blind residents. I spoke to a woman who says she's a friend with one of those residents, and they're very worried about how to get out of the building and their safety. And the whole area right now is an active crime scene. You know, not just the block where the explosion took place, but many of the blocks around it. Traffic has been stopped and we're not sure when those streets will reopen, so a big, big portion of Midtown Manhattan is shut down. So we'll see how long that will last.

MARTIN: A developing story. We will be following it throughout the morning. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reporting on that explosion in New York City last night. Thanks so much, Hansi.

WANG: You're welcome, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: September 25, 2016 at 11:00 PM CDT
The headline on this page briefly said 29 people had been killed by the explosion in New York City. That was a mistake. There were 29 people injured.
Hansi Lo Wang (he/him) is a national correspondent for NPR reporting on the people, power and money behind the U.S. census.