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Buildings collapse in NYC, killing 2 and injuring 36

Firefighters from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) respond to a 5-alarm fire and building collapse at 1646 Park Ave in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan March 12, 2014 in New York City.
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Firefighters from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) respond to a 5-alarm fire and building collapse at 1646 Park Ave in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan March 12, 2014 in New York City.

Two buildings collapsed in Manhattan Wednesday morning following a gas leak explosion that rattled surrounding buildings and shattered windows, authorities said Wednesday, killing at least two people and injuring at least than 36.

The collapse occurred near East 116th Street and Park Avenue around 9:30 am ET.

One of the five-story buildings that collapsed had a piano repair shop with apartments above, according to images from Google Maps. The second building housed a church.

The owner of the church that exploded said there was a gas odor at the church on Tuesday night, according to a report from 1010 WINS.

Smoke billowed into Central Park and could be seen from miles away in midtown, and New Yorkers said they felt rumbles as far away as 150th Street.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the buildings are destroyed, and that first responders were digging through the rubble for victims.

The only indication of anything wrong before the explosion was a call to Con Edison from a nearby building, reporting a strong odor of gas just minutes before the blast, the mayor and the utility said. But it was too late.

"This is a tragedy of the worst kind because there was no indication in time to save people," de Blasio said.

The Buildings Department said one of the collapsed buildings had six units, the other had nine. One of the buildings had work done last June for 120 feet of gas piping, records show. It has no violations on record.

The other building just to the north of it had one violation from 2008 related to vertical cracks in the rear of the building. The city said a fine was paid but it was not clear that the condition had been corrected.

The site is adjacent to Metro-North commuter railroad tracks, not far from the northeastern tip of Central Park. Metro-North says it has halted service to and from Grand Central Terminal, and the city rerouted several bus lines to skirt the site.

(Click here to read the full story from News 4 New York)

--By CNBC.com. Wire services and News 4 New York contributed to this story.

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