An explosion that injured at least 29 people in New York City late Saturday appeared to be “intentional,” Mayor Bill de Blasio announced, as sources told a second device — a pressure cooker — was found four blocks away.
“Tonight, New York City experienced a very bad incident,” de Blasio said at a news conference near the scene in Chelsea. “We have no credible and specific threat at this moment.”
De Blasio tried to calm any fears among nervous New Yorkers, saying the explosion had no terrorist connection and wasn’t related to a pipe bomb explosion at a charity run in New Jersey earlier Saturday
The blast, which happened at around 8:30 p.m. on West 23rd Street in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood, appeared to originate from a construction toolbox in front of a building, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. A garbage can was found mangled nearby.
Less than three hours after the explosion, investigators located a pressure cooker at West 27th Street that was attached to wiring and a cellphone, a law enforcment source told Fox News. It was not clear what was inside the device. Police advised residents of the block where the pressure cooker was found to stay away from windows facing 27th Street.
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Early Sunday, police said that the pressure cooker had been removed from the area and would be taken to the department’s firing range in the Bronx for further analysis.
New York Police Department spokesman J. Peter Donald said several people were taken to hospitals with injuries. One of the injured suffered a puncture wound that was considered serious. Officials said the other injuries were minor, described as scrapes and bruises. All of the injured were expected to survive, the FDNY reported.
Witnesses said the explosion blew out the windows of businesses and scattered debris in the area. One witness told the explosion sent a “big cloud of black smoke” into the air as people ran from the scene. Another said a fireball shot into the air as a nearby building shook.
A National Guard member near the scene told Fox News the explosion was so loud that he put on his uniform and raced to the area.
Chris Gonzalez, visiting from Dallas, was having dinner with friends at a restaurant in the area.
“We felt it, we heard it, the restaurant went real quiet, the 26-year-old Gonzalez told the Associated Press. “It wasn’t like jolting or anything, everyone just went quiet.”
Rudy Alcide, a bouncer at Vanity Nightclub at 21st Street and 6th Avenue, said he, at first, thought something large had fallen.
“It was an extremely loud noise, everything was shaking, the windows were shaking, it was crazy,” he said. “It was extremely loud, almost like thunder, but louder.”
Fox News was told there had been no prior intelligence suggesting Saturday’s events may have been imminent. Sources also said it did not appear to be a gas explosion.
The FBI and NYPD would not rule out terrorism as a possible factor but said it was too early to determine the exact cause, law enforcement sources told Fox News. Police did not say whether they had any potential suspects.
Police counterterrorism officers, a bomb squad and firefighters rushed to the scene.
“All hands are on deck,” de Blasio said at a news conference Saturday night.
The blast happened in front of a residence for the blind, near a major thoroughfare with many restaurants and a Trader Joe’s supermarket.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and urge New Yorkers to, as always, remain calm and vigilant,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded.
The FBI and Homeland Security officials, along with the ATF arson and explosive task force are also at the scene.
The White House said President Barack Obama has been apprised of the explosion in New York City and will be updated as additional information becomes available.
The explosion came hours after a pipe bomb exploded in Seaside Park, N. J., shortly before thousands of runners participated in a charity 5K race to benefit Marines and sailors. No injuries were reported.