Wednesday, December 24, 2014


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Investigators Focus on Basement Connections in East Harlem Blast

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As crews work to determine the cause of the deadly explosion in East Harlem last week, the investigation is now focused on basement meters and pipes, and on possible ignition sources such as light switches.

Eight people died and more than 40 were injured in the blast.

The medical examiner ruled all of the deaths accidental, caused by either blunt trauma, smoke inhalation or burns.

A funeral for 44-year-old Griselde Camacho will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at Bethel Gospel Assembly on East 120th Street.

Two displaced residents have announced their intent to sue.

Two notices of claim have also been filed -- one against the city, the other against Con Ed.

Meantime, volunteers are working to distribute piles of donations to the people displaced by the explosion.

The efforts are for people who lived in the collapsed buildings or in nearby buildings that have been temporarily evacuated. Many of those people are now scattered across the city, but neighbors in East Harlem are asking them to come pick up clothes, food and other provisions.

Ibrahim Ocasio lived at 1652 Park Avenue and nearly a week later he still thinks about the moment the two buildings next door exploded.

"It's just shook you up, it literally moved you, it's crazy stuff," he said.

Ocasio and his mother are staying with family in Brooklyn. They say they're thankful the city offered them temporary housing but preferred to stay with family. He says they're getting by and very grateful to have that support.

"Since we have family and a lot of family with options. You know, we don't have what we have at the home but definitely could be way worse. Very grateful for what we have," Ocasio said.

Karla Martinez and her daughter Stephanie Ballesteros also lived at 1652 Park Avenue. They are staying at a city-provided shelter in the Bronx. They came to a makeshift donation site on 108th Street on Tuesday and say they need just about everything.

"I'm thankful for the clothes, I'm thankful for everything, I'm thankful for the help and I hope everyone can go back soon to their apartments and with their loved ones and everything will be okay as soon as possible," Ballesteros said.

The East Harlem We Stand organization will have their doors open for donations or pickups at 309 East 108th Street until 7 p.m. Tuesday. On Wednesday, they will be located at 180 East 118th Street.

For more information or to make a cash donation, visit the Red Cross website.

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