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Mayor Bill de Blasio, who rushed to the scene in East Harlem, where a cascade of twisted and burnt metal blocked the sidewalk and covered parked cars, said preliminary information showed the explosion was caused by a gas leak. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was investigating the "gas explosion and subsequent fire." Hundreds of firefighters were scouring the mounds of debris for survivors and trapped bodies, and de Blasio said there were "a number" of people missing. The explosion, which could be heard from blocks away, shattered windows around the neighborhood. Boom!" said Aisha Watts, who lives in the building next door.
(Reuters) - A partly-built high-rise tower in San Francisco whose upper floors collapsed in a major fire on Tuesday was in danger of collapsing further, and a nearby apartment building remained evacuated, a fire official said on Wednesday. A five-alarm blaze that may have been caused by a welding mishap broke out late on Tuesday at the MB360 apartment complex under construction in the Mission Bay district, said San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge.
By Alice Popovici MARRIOTTSVILLE, Maryland (Reuters) - The gunman who killed two store employees at a Maryland mall early this year may have been obsessed with the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and left a journal behind in which he wrote that he might already be dead, police said on Wednesday. The shooter, Darion Marcus Aguilar, 19, did not know the victims when he opened fire at a crowded Columbia, Maryland, mall about 20 miles west of Baltimore on January 25 before killing himself with his 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun. Investigators have been unable to find any connection between Aguilar and the employees he gunned down at a Zumiez Inc skateboard store, the Howard County Police Department's investigation found. He was a young man that did not garner much attention to himself," Police Chief William McMahon told a news conference.
By Keith Coffman DENVER (Reuters) - A 4-year-old pajama-clad boy was left unattended in a vehicle that was carjacked by a fugitive and survived a high-speed police chase in the Denver area on Wednesday, police said. The suspect later carjacked two other vehicles and struck a police officer before his arrest. He crashed one of the vehicles and attempted to flee on foot following a 75-mile (120-km) pursuit that was captured live by a Denver TV station helicopter during the morning rush hour, said Trooper Nate Reid, a spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol. Douglas County Undersheriff Tony Spurlock identified the suspect as 28-year-old Ryan Stone, who is from the Denver area.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) ? The gunman who killed two hostages during an August standoff at a rural Louisiana bank had been treated several weeks earlier for paranoid schizophrenia at a California hospital after returning to the U.S. from a trip to Yemen, according to a report released Wednesday by the Louisiana State Police.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) ? The United Nations warned Wednesday that ancient Christian and Muslim sites in Syria are under attack and demanded an immediate halt to the destruction of the country's cultural heritage.
NEW YORK (AP) ? A thunderous explosion apparently caused by a gas leak flattened two East Harlem apartment buildings Wednesday, killing at least two people, injuring more than 20 and leaving more than a dozen others missing. One tenant said residents had complained repeatedly in recent weeks about "unbearable" gas smells.
PHOENIX (AP) ? Former NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper was indicted in Arizona on charges of sexual assault and administering dangerous drugs, authorities said Wednesday.