CHELSEA, Manhattan — Twenty-nine people were injured in an “intentional” explosion in the heart of Chelsea Saturday night, jolting a bustling neighborhood teeming with restaurants, bars and pedestrians and alarming the city on what had been a calm weekend evening.
“This was an intentional act,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Saturday night. He said there is no known link to terrorism or the explosion that happened in Seaside Park, N.J. earlier Saturday. “New Yorkers will not be intimidated. We will not let anyone change who we are or how we go about our lives.”
A possible secondary device — which a source described to PIX11 News as a “possible pressure cooker” — has been found at West 27th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenue, according NYPD Special Operations. The area should be avoided, the NYPD said.
The FDNY is assessing potential structure damage resulting from the explosion and Con Ed is testing for radioactivity at the 23rd Street scene.
Residents who live in the area told PIX11 they were not allowed back into their homes.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill, in his first full day on the job, said the NYPD has a video of the explosion and is collecting more video, but would not discuss additional details of the investigation, such as what may have exploded or whether it was in a garbage can, as earlier reports indicated.
The blast happened around 8:30 p.m. in front of 135 23rd St. between Sixth and Seventh avenues. The FDNY says none of the 24 of of the 29 injured who were hospitalized sustained serious injuries, with scrapes and other injuries. The worst was described the the FDNY as a puncture wound. “It was loud. It was very loud,” said Crown Heights resident Fredrick M. Farrell. “I was on 21st Street and the blast sounded like it was right next door.”
Wayne Teigman, who lives in the area, described the chaotic scene moments after the explosion.
“The building shook, it was a huge, intense explosion.” said Teigman. “I saw people running west on 23rd Street.”
By midnight, Teigman told PIX11 he was still not allowed back in his apartment.
The explosion happened in front of Selis Manor, an apartment building that assists the blind community.
The NYPD Counterterrorism Unit asked New Yorkers to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings.
The White House has issued a statement regarding the explosion.
“The president has been apprised of the explosion in New York City, the cause of which remains under investigation. The president will be updated as additional information becomes available.”
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter announced Saturday night that the Nassau County Police Department is on heightened alert following the explosions in New York and, earlier, in Seaside Park, N.J.
“Although there is no known imminent threats to Nassau County, police are monitoring these attacks along with federal, state and local authorities,” a statement from Nassau County officials read. “Nassau County Police are intensifying patrols in all areas of mass transit, critical infrastructure, and will increase patrols at significant public events.”
The Chelsea explosion comes hours after the pipe bomb exploded in Seaside Park, near the Semper Fi 5K Charity Run route. The pipe bomb was also placed in a garbage can.
The victims of the Chelsea blast were taken to area hospitals. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arson and explosives task force is responding to the explosion as well.
People in the area told PIX11 they could feel the vibrations from the outdoor explosion.
“I was eating dinner and felt the vibrations of the blast,” said Yemi Osibogun, a Bronx resident who was seated at a nearby sushi restaurant. “My plate actually shook.”
Facebook activated their safety check feature for the explosion, allowing users nearby to tag their safety.
Photos posted to social media showed hundreds of people standing in the streets trying to figure out where the explosion came from.
Traffic has been halted in the area as police continue to investigate.