As many as 29 people have been injured in an explosion that rocked New York’s busy and upscale Manhattan neighbourhood which was also frequented by tourists. The “intentional act” happened just hours before world leaders arrive in the city for the high-level UN General Assembly session, authorities said.
The explosion which came hours after a pipe bomb went off in a garbage can in New Jersey, occurred in the Chelsea neighbourhood at 23rd St. and 6th Avenue around 8:30 pm (local time) on Saturday evening.
The spot of the explosion was a busy residential and commercial area frequented by tourists and city residents.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the number of people injured is now 29 but none is life threatening except for one who is in “serious” condition. The Mayor described the explosion as an “intentional act” but said there is no evidence at this point of a terror link.
He said the city “experienced a very serious incident” and injuries are significant but added that there is “no evidence at this point of a terror connection” even as early indications suggest “this was an intentional act”.
“There is no specific and credible threat at this time from any terror organisation”, he said, adding that he does not see a link to terrorism.
New York City new Police Commissioner James O Neill, who had his first day as the city’s police chief on Friday , said that the “exact cause of the explosion has not yet been determined”. He also added that personnel from the police department, FBI, bomb squad and counter-terrorism departments were at the scene of the blast.
The Police Commissioner added that a “second site” is being treated at 27th street between 6th and 7th avenues by the police.
The Mayor also added that there is “no specific connection” to the incident in New Jersey earlier in the day in which an explosion occurred in a garbage can.
“We are not going to let anyone change us, intimidate us,” the mayor said.
Authorities said “extensive search” is being conducted in the area and the neighbourhood.
Security is already tight in the city as nearly 190 world leaders, including Obama, will arrive in the city for a week-long high-level annual UN General Assembly session, beginning Monday.
“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,” a White House official said.
(With inputs from PTI)