Four critical as NY apartment block collapses
Twelve people were injured, four of them critically, when an apartment building collapsed and burst into flames in New York City's East Village neighborhood.
Witnesses reported hearing an explosion, and utility officials said they were investigating whether there had been a gas explosion.
The five-story brick apartment building collapsed shortly after 3pm, according to the Fire Department of New York, and it was quickly engulfed in flames.
Just remnants of its brick facade remained intact, and flames could be seen leaping high into the sky amid thick plumes of dark smoke (inset).
The building at Second Avenue and East Seventh Street is located in Manhattan's East Village, a neighborhood of small businesses, restaurants and apartments.
It housed 26 apartments and was built in 1900, according to online real estate websites. A sushi restaurant was located on the ground floor, area residents said.
Ben Mackinnon (28) said he was drinking coffee in a cafe when he heard an explosion from across the street.
"The explosion was big enough that the door of the cafe blew open," Mackinnon said.
Outside he saw several bloodied men emerge from the sushi restaurant where the explosion appeared to originate", he said.