Six Dead, Dozens Injured as Explosion Levels Two NYC Buildings

WABC NY(NEW YORK) -- Six people were killed and at least 27 were injured Wednesday when a suspected gas explosion tore through adjoining buildings in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood.

"This is a tragedy of the worst kind because there was no indication in time to save people," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference.

Two of the six victims have been identified: Sgt. Griselde Camacho, a public safety officer at Hunter College; and 67-year-old Carmen Tanco, a dental hygienist. One person who was pulled from the rubble later died.

In addition to the six killed, two people had life-threatening injuries, five more had serious but not life-threatening injuries, and the others had minor injuries. There are several people reported missing and have not yet been found, according to the New York Fire Department.

A New York City official said the casualty "numbers are going to change."

Residents at the building at 116th Street and Park Avenue reported hearing a loud explosion around 9:30 a.m. The first 911 call came in at 9:31 a.m. and firefighters were on the scene two minutes later, Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano said.

Con Edison was responding to a report of a gas odor at 1652 Park Ave., officials said. The call came in at 9:13 a.m. from a resident of that building who indicated the odor may have been coming from outside the building. Two Con Edison crews were dispatched at 9:15 a.m., officials said, noting they arrived just after the explosion occurred. The street is served by an eight-inch low-pressure gas main, utility officials said. There were a total of 15 residential units in the two buildings.

There is "no indications of foul play," de Blasio said.

Google images of the building show two commercial storefronts on the ground floor with residential apartments above those storefronts.

Shattered windows in nearby shopfronts show the extent of the explosion, which was apparently caused by a gas leak, according to ABC station WABC.

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SLIDESHOW: See photos from the scene of the explosion

Over 250 firefighters were at the scene, as well as dozens of pieces of equipment to clear the rubble.

"We are expending every effort to locate each and every loved one," de Blasio said.

Any relatives who are looking for info about their loved ones can call the Unified Victim Identification System at 311, officials said.

Residents in the area have posted pictures of the building on social media.

Service was restored to all four Metro-North lines by Wednesday evening.

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Drone Circles Building Explosion Taking Photos

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A drone gliding over the rubble of an apartment building ravaged by a gas explosion didn’t belong to the New York police or fire departments, but rather some guy named Brian Wilson.

Wilson launched his small drone, equipped with a video camera, to fly over the scene of the blast that leveled two apartment buildings early Wednesday morning.

At least two people were killed and more than 20 were injured in an explosion Wednesday morning. Plumes of thick smoke engulfed the area around 9:30 a.m. after the explosion occurred around the building at 116th Street and Park Avenue.

It seems authorities on the scene decided Wilson’s drone was getting in the way and asked him to ground it.

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Florida Police ‘Ticket’ 2-Year-Old Girl Driving White Convertible

ABC News(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- A 2-year-old in Jacksonville, Fla., will have to start doing some chores now to pay off the $4 “ticket” she received Tuesday from police officers while driving her white convertible toy car around her apartment complex.

The good news for the toddler, Za’Dariyah, is that the scribbling and drawings her mother says she has been making on the ticket won’t be held against her in court.

The driving infraction against Za’Dariyah was given in fun by a few good-natured officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office who were responding to a call at the same apartment complex where Za’Dariyah lives with her family.

The officers saw an opportunity to defuse the situation when they saw Za’Dariyah cruising around the parking lot.

“Everybody got a bad perception of the police… and the police was real nice when they came along,” said Za’Dariyah’s uncle Keyth Mishaw, who took photos of his niece’s first “ticket” and sent them to First Coast News.

The photos went viral on the station’s Facebook page -- garnering 3 million views, 150,000 likes and 17,000 shares -- and Mishaw, Za’Dariyah and her mother, Zumekia, were interviewed live on the News’ 7 p.m. broadcast Tuesday night, even bringing Za’Dariyah’s white convertible with them.

“I’m still in shock right now about it all,” Zumekia, whose last name was not released, said of the attention her daughter’s pictures have received.

Though the ticket is fake, Za’Dariyah was “bumping into some cars” while driving the convertible for the first time, her uncle said.

“She was just actually doing her little driving thing and they [said], ‘She deserves a ticket.  She deserves a ticket,’” Mishaw said of the officers.

“We had fun with it and my family had a good time with it,” Mishaw said.  “I want to say hey to the officer. He made a real good something out of nothing.”

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has not responded to requests for comment.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Passengers Help Save Baby on Diverted US Airways Flight

Nicholas77/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- A US Airways flight was diverted to Houston after a baby reportedly stopped breathing -- with passengers on board coming to the baby’s rescue.

Flight 678 departed from Tampa International Airport on Tuesday en route to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. As the plane neared Houston, a baby on the flight stopped breathing and turned purple, passengers told KSAZ FOX10 in Phoenix. Two people with medical training responded, rushing to help.

As rescue efforts continued, the pilots prepared for an emergency landing.

“When we heard the baby cry, it was just … it was a teary moment for everybody,” a female passenger told FOX10.

After the baby started crying, the passengers cheered.

The passenger was taken off the flight when the plane landed in Houston, and EMTs attended to the passenger, US Airways spokesman Liz Landau told ABC News. US Airways declined to release any information about the passenger.

There’s no word on the baby’s condition.

The plane landed safely in Phoenix at about 9 p.m. local time.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Wintry Weather Returns Around the US

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Despite the brief taste of spring this week, 89 million people across 14 states are under another winter watch with warnings.

In St. Louis, for example, temperatures reached 81 Tuesday. By Wednesday, the forecasted high temperature there is only in the 30s. In Philadelphia the weather will do the same thing. In New York City, the temperature reached into the 60s. But on Thursday, it's not going to be pretty. It's going to be in the upper 20s.

And it's not just the wild temperature swings prompting winter weather watches. More snowfall is expected for some states.

Watch the full report from ABC's World News with Diane Sawyer:

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


‘First Kiss’: The Story Behind Tuesday’s Real Viral Hit

Courtesy of Wren(NEW YORK) -- It’s a simple enough concept. Put two strangers in front of a camera, with one simple direction: “Kiss.”

“The key trick I used was not to say ‘action,’” said filmmaker Tatia Pilieva. “I’ve done lovemaking scenes before, but there was something so tender about this that we all kind of melted behind the five cameras we were using.”

The production crew isn’t the only one.

While President Obama’s “Between Two Ferns” interview stole most of Tuesday’s headlines, it was no match for “First Kiss,” the advertisement-turned-viral hit that has already passed 10 million views in its first two days online.

The short film is presented by the Los Angeles-based women’s clothing company Wren. CEO and founder Melissa Coker enlisted her old high school friend Pilieva to help her round up 20 people they would put in front of a camera to share a real-life “first kiss” scenario.

What came next was an awkward yet strangely fascinating three-and-a-half-minute montage of kisses between young, old, straight, gay, lesbian and biracial pairings.

All of the participants were friends of Coker and Pilieva who live in Los Angeles, and while they range from actors to models to singers, Pilieva said none of them were paid for the advertisement.

“We kind of grouped them together just by instinct,” Pilieva said. “I was really nervous at first, but you can see how some of the people responded.”

According to Pilieva, some responded so well that their interactions didn’t end when she reluctantly called out the end of the scene.

“At least one couple went to the park for breakfast after, and another couple I heard winded up going to lunch,” Pilieva said. “I’m positive at least some friendships developed. I don’t know if any romantic relationships developed, but I could just be out of the loop.”

Soko, a participant and the songwriter and voice behind the video’s title track, was able to further connect with her female counterpart after their first kiss.

“It felt like the longest kiss of my life, but I wanted to just kiss more. It was so pure,” Soko said. “Afterwards we went to get breakfast and then we ended up just hanging out the next four days. We didn’t really take anything further romantically but we made a real connection and I feel like that’s one of the most beautiful things people can take away from this video.”

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SXSW Q & A: Why Chelsea Clinton Is ‘Obsessed with Diarrhea’

Scott Olson/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Things got a little awkward during Chelsea Clinton’s speech at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, Tuesday, when she proudly told a full house of tech and digital enthusiasts: “I’m obsessed with diarrhea.”


An unexpected statement, but true. Clinton kicked off a Q & A by asking the moderator if she could talk about diarrhea: “I’m obsessed” with it, she said. The crowd took it as a joke, but Clinton noted that the audience wouldn’t be laughing when she finished, saying, “It’s actually very serious.”

“I find the fact that more than 750,000 children die around the world with severe hydration from diarrhea unacceptable,” she said. Clinton explained she likes talking about diarrhea because she isn’t squeamish about it -- even though most people are.

During the speech, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton solicited questions from Twitter users using the hashtag #AskChelsea.

There was a brief scare when Twitter went down just the hour before, but to the relief of tweeps and Clinton herself, the social media network was back up and running by the time she took the stage.

“I’m thrilled Twitter’s working again,” Clinton told the crowd.

Here are a few other things we learned about the former -- and potentially future -- first daughter’s political aspirations, and even her favorite breakfast taco ingredients:

She Taught Her Parents How to Text

When asked if there was anything she ever taught her parents, Clinton responded: “I definitely taught my parents how to text. How to charge their phones,” adding it was a “very mysterious thing for them at the beginning.”

She May Run for Office

While all eyes are on her mother and a possible 2016 run for the White House, the audience took time to ask the younger Clinton about her own political aspirations. So will she get into politics? “I don’t know,” she said, adding that while “for a long time my answer to that question was ‘no,’” she’s not discounting the possibility in the future.

She Held ‘Mock’ Debates with Her Parents as a Kid

Clinton was asked about lessons she learned from her parents. She told the audience that her parents always wanted her to have an opinion and even made her do mock debates with them as a young child: “My parents expected me to have views and opinions,” she said. “When I was 6 years old I would debate against a parent and the other would be the moderator.”

She Likes Her Breakfast Tacos Spicy

It wouldn’t be a Texas forum without a little talk about tacos. A Twitter user curious about her taste in southern food asked which three ingredients she must have in a breakfast taco. Much to the delight of the audience, Clinton said she “loves” breakfast tacos and concluded she’d have to have eggs, jalapenos and peppers.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Puppy Adopted by Olympic Skier in Sochi Dies

Twitter/@robindmacdonald(NEW YORK) -- One of the puppies that Olympic silver medalist skier Gus Kenworthy adopted while in Sochi for the Winter Olympics has died, his representative confirmed Tuesday.

“Sochi,” a female stray, died while Kenworthy’s friend, Robin Macdonald, was trying to get the adopted puppies back to the United States for proper treatment, Kenworthy spokesman Michael Spencer said.



In winning a silver medal and sharing the four puppies he saved from the streets of Sochi with the world on social media, Kenworthy became a household name during the Olympics.







Spencer said Macdonald and the surviving dogs are “in transit” back to the U.S. and are expected to arrive in Denver sometime this week.



Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


President Obama Visits NYC, Takes Surprise Shopping Trip

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Apparently even President Obama knows that New York City is a great place to shop.

During a trip to the Big Apple on Tuesday, the president made a surprise stop at the Gap.

“I’m here at the Gap because it never hurts to bring something back home — I get points,” Obama joked.

Obama checked out some khakis and sweatshirts. A cheery saleswoman talked him through a few options, including a V-neck pink sweater.

Obama said he was worried the V-neck “would slip” off his daughter’s shoulders.

He ultimately settled on a light pink crewneck for Sasha and a bright pink one for Malia.

A White House official explained the president’s impromptu stop: “In his State of the Union address, the President called for businesses to raise workers’ wages, and today the President will visit a Gap store to show his support for Gap Inc.’s decision to increase wages for their US based employees.”

During his visit to the store, Obama also picked out something for the first lady.

“Maybe I should get her some socks,” the president joked.

He ultimately picked out a navy blue zip-up workout shirt.

The president then greeted the woman behind the counter, who told him he was better-looking in person.

“You hear that?” the president said to reporters.

“I think the ladies would be impressed with my style sense,” the president said as his items were rung up.

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CIA Chief: Not Ruling Out Terrorism in Malaysia Airlines Disappearance

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The head of the CIA said Tuesday that his agency has “not at all” ruled out the idea that terrorism may have played a role in the “very disturbing” disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

“I think there’s a lot of speculation right now,” Dir. John Brennan told the Council on Foreign Relations. “[There have been] some claims of responsibility that have not been confirmed or corroborated at all. We are looking at it very carefully. We, the CIA, are working with FBI and TSA and others. Our Malaysian counterparts are doing everything they can to try to put together the pieces here. But clearly this is still a mystery, which is very disturbing.”

When asked whether he had ruled out terrorism as a factor, Brennan responded, “No, I wouldn’t rule it out. Not at all.”

However, the CIA chief said that analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center had not heard any “chatter” -- a common indication of terrorist participation -- related to the Malaysian Airlines flight prior to the incident. A senior counter-terrorism source told ABC News Monday that in addition to the lack of chatter beforehand, there has been a dearth afterwards as well.

“The bad guys aren’t even discussing it,” the counter-terrorism source said. “It could be great operational security, but I doubt it.”

Speculation about the flight having become a target for terrorists has abounded since the flight with 239 passengers on board disappeared in good weather without explanation Saturday. Over the weekend it was revealed two of the men on the flight had boarded with stolen passports, but today the two were identified as young Iranian men and Malaysian and Interpol officials downplayed any possible links to militant groups.

As to the fate of the plane, Malaysian Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters that investigators have not ruled out any possibility, including hijacking, sabotage or a personal motive by someone on board to bring the plane down. Like American intelligence agencies, Bakar said Malaysian authorities “had no prior information or intelligence about any involvement of terrorists.”

“It’s an awkward situation,” the senior counter-terrorism source said. “There is nothing from which to draw any firm conclusion yet. We are in a period where we are concerned about an aviation threat, but there are justifiable explanations for the non-terrorism theories.”

Regardless of what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, Brennan said Tuesday the U.S. cannot let its guard down.

“It’s close to now 13 years since 9/11 and I think the memories and tragedy of 9/11 have receded in the minds of many people,” Brennan said. “This is not the time to relax because we know there are terrorist groups that are still determined to carry out attacks, including against -- especially against -- aircraft.”

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