SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

March 15, 2014

8 dead in gas blast as rescue operation goes into third day

(Continued)

Police have identified six of the dead: Griselde Camacho, 45, a Hunter College security officer; Carmen Tanco, 67, a dental hygienist who took part in church-sponsored medical missions to Africa and the Caribbean; Andreas Panagopoulos, 43, a musician; Rosaura Hernandez, 22, a restaurant cook from Mexico; George Ameado, 44, a handyman who lived in one of the buildings that collapsed; and Alexis Salas, 22, a restaurant worker.

Mexican officials said another Mexican woman, Rosaura Barrios Vazquez, 43, was among those killed.

The eighth body, of a woman whose name hasn’t been released, was pulled from the rubble on Thursday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who toured a Red Cross shelter where residents of the destroyed buildings are staying, said yesterday that the city would find temporary or long-term housing for about 50 displaced families.

The Department of Homeless Services has about 50 apartments available for families in private buildings where nonprofits are involved in the management, he said, adding that officials are arranging for more apartments that would be available for up to three months.

“It’s our obligation as the city of New York, and I know all New Yorkers feel this way, to stand by them,” he said.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the gas leak had anything to do with the city’s aging gas and water mains, some of which were installed in the 1800s. Cassano, the fire commissioner, said they’ll look at meters, see if there were any breaks in the piping and identify any possible ignition sources, such as light switches.

On Thursday, Sumwalt, the NTSB team member, said the gas main and distribution pipe under the street had been examined in a crater and were found to be intact, with no obvious punctures or ruptures. They had not been torn from the ground.

However, he said, NTSB investigators had been unable to conduct a fuller examination because of the rescue effort, and it was unclear whether the leak came from inside or outside the buildings.

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