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Two killed, 20 injured in New York building collapse

At least two people were killed and 20 others injured when two buildings collapsed after a huge explosion today in the East Harlem neighbourhood of New York City, sparking a major fire that engulfed the area in thick smoke

New York: At least two people were killed and 20 others injured in a massive explosion that rocked East Harlem here Wednesday morning, media reported.

The explosion took place around 9 a.m. on Park Avenue on 116th Street, CBS News reported citing the New York fire department.

The impact of the explosion was such that it caused two buildings to collapse.

Television pictures from the scene showed heavy smoke billowing out from the area as firefighters battled the blaze. The bomb squad responded as a precaution, though it is still unclear whether anyone was present inside the buildings.

While one of the buildings that collapsed had a piano repair shop with apartments above, the other housed a church.

Federal officials told CBS News that initial indications showed that the blast was caused by a gas leak.

Energy utility Con Ed also confirmed that its crews were on their way to the area after a woman called up to complain of smelling gas but the explosion took place before they could reach.

According to Carmen Vargas-Rosa, the owner of the church, there was a gas odour nearby Tuesday night.

"Last night when we came out of church, at the corner outside in the street there was a smell of gas," CBS News quoted her as saying.

"It would come and go, so I thought it was from the corner store there so I went to the owners and told them and they said they would look into it and then we went home."

Meanwhile, services in and out of Grand Central Terminal have been suspended until further notice.

Metro-North said the explosion happened adjacent to the train tracks.

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