Officials in New York City say a bomb that exploded in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood on Saturday, injuring 29 people, had parts indicating it was a homemade bomb. However, they add they have “no easy answers” about who is responsible.
“It’s going to take a lot of careful investigation to get to the facts, to get to the truth,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters on Sunday. “We’re going to be very careful and patient to get to the full truth here. We’re not going to jump to conclusions, we’re not going to offer you easy answers.”
He said investigators still don’t know if there were any political motivations behind the bombing.
The mayor urged New Yorkers to be “vigilant” and call in any possible clues, adding they will see a police presence that is “bigger than ever” at events in the city this week, including the UN General Assembly meeting on Monday.
City police commissioner Jim O’Neill said investigators scouring the blast scene on West 23rd Street, “did find some components indicative of an IED,” or improvised explosive device.
Earlier Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the explosion doesn’t appear to be linked to international terrorism. It was reported in Chelsea around 8:30 p.m. and appeared to have come from a black metal construction toolbox in front of a building, an unidentified law enforcement official said.
The blast happened in front of a residence for the blind, near a major thoroughfare with many restaurants and a Trader Joe’s supermarket. Photos showed scaffolding along the strip of buildings at the scene.
Witnesses said the explosion between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue blew out the windows of businesses and scattered debris in the area. Officials said no evacuations were necessary.
“It’s a residential area, but there are a lot of restaurants and businesses, and when the explosion happened, it sent people running in all directions. It blew out windows and sent debris flying into the streets,” said CBC’s Steven D’Souza, reporting from New York.
Footage shows moment of blast
Security video footage taken outside a fitness centre showed the moment of the explosion and people running from the scene.
Late Saturday, de Blasio ruled out any terror connections but called the blast an “intentional act.”
“Tonight, New York City experienced a very bad incident,” de Blasio said at a news conference near the scene. “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 earlier Saturday in New Jersey that forced the cancellation of a charity run.
“Now, I want to be clear: Whatever the cause, whatever the intention here, New Yorkers will not be intimidated,” the mayor said. “We are not going to let anyone change who we are or how we go about our lives.”
It was unclear who was behind the blast and what motivated it.
All victims released from hospital
Gov. Cuomo said while there was still no indication the explosion was linked to international terrorism, “it is very, very early in the investigation.”
Cuomo confirmed all 29 victims had been released from hospital.
“So that is really good news,” he said.
Cuomo added that nearly 1,000 New York State Police and National Guard personnel would be deployed for additional security at bus terminals, airports and subway stations. The blast closed some subway lines, but the governor said they would reopen on Monday.
2nd device 4 blocks away
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that a second device that officers found four blocks from the scene appeared to be a pressure cooker attached to wiring and a cellphone.
The official, who not authorized to speak about an ongoing investigation and remained anonymous, said the device was found inside a plastic bag on West 27th Street. The device was removed with a robot and taken to a department firing range in the Bronx.
Chris Gonzalez, visiting from Dallas, was having dinner with friends at a restaurant in the area at the time of the explosion on West 23rd Street.
“We felt it. We heard it,” Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t like jolting or anything. Everyone just went quiet.”
Danilo Gabrielli told CBC News the explosion, a block from where he lives, “shook my entire apartment, and I got scared.”
His first reaction was to run to the scene, where he stayed for almost two hours, videotaping investigators as they arrived.
“It was a mix of being scared and being curious and trying to figure out what was happening,” he said.
At least one person seriously injured
Daniel Nigro, commissioner of the Fire Department of New York, said several people were taken to hospitals with injuries. One person received a puncture wound that was considered serious. The other injuries were described as scrapes and bruises.
Bellevue Hospital said on Twitter on Sunday that it received 11 patients and all of them have been treated and released.
New York City subway routes were affected by the explosion, which rattled some New Yorkers and visitors on the heels of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
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,” he said. “It was extremely loud, almost like thunder but louder.”
The FBI and Homeland Security officials, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arson and explosive task force, were at the scene.
The White House said U.S. President Barack Obama was apprised of the explosion.
In St. Cloud, Minnesota, police said at least eight people were injured at a shopping mall Saturday evening in a stabbing attack. The suspect was shot dead by an off-duty police officer.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said she had been briefed “about the bombings in New York and New Jersey and the attack in Minnesota.”
She says the nation needs to support its first responders and “pray for the victims.”
“We have to let this investigation unfold,” she said.
Donald Trump moved ahead of New York City officials when he declared a “bomb went off” before officials had released details. He made the announcement minutes after stepping off his plane in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“I must tell you that just before I got off the plane a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows what’s going on,” Trump said.
‘We better get tough,’ Trump says
He continued, “But boy we are living in a time — we better get very tough, folks. We better get very, very tough. It’s a terrible thing that’s going on in our world, in our country and we are going to get tough and smart and vigilant.”
The Republican presidential nominee made the comments around 9:10 p.m., shortly after the explosion and as emergency officials responded to the blast. A spokeswoman for Trump did not respond to an email asking whether he was briefed about it before taking the stage.
The Manhattan blast came hours after the pipe bomb explosion in New Jersey, shortly before thousands of runners were due to participate in a charity 5K race to benefit Marines and sailors. The run was cancelled, and no injuries were reported.
There is no indication the two explosions are connected, de Blasio said.
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