East Harlem Explosion Is 'Our Community's 9/11,' Says New York Rep. Charlie Rangel
Two hours after the fatal explosion and dual-building collapse in Upper Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood, New York Rep. Charlie Rangel told a NBC affiliate station: "It’s our community’s 9/11, even though we don’t know how it started." An explosion at roughly 9.30 ET appears to have sparked the collapse of two buildings, with smoke billowing all the way into mid-Manhattan, and at least two deaths have been reported. Mayor Bill de Blasio has blamed a gas leak for the explosion.
In a pretty problematic comparison, to say the least, Rangel told the NBC station: "I’ve never had anything this horrific that’s happened in my community since I’ve been in Washington... This is a very serious thing. It’s our community’s 9/11." Rangel has served as the representative for that district since January of last year, and has served New York in the House of Representatives since 1971. He was born in Harlem.
Rangel is in Washington, D.C., and told the station he was evaluating whether to return to New York Wednesday evening to be on hand for the emergency. All signs point to a gas leak causing the explosion: At least one resident has reported smelling gas shortly before the explosion and building collapse, and Con Edison has confirmed that they were in the process of responding to the gas smell when it occurred.
Officials have said there's no reason to suspect a terrorist attack.
Back in 2010, President Obama compared the fallout of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to that of 9/11, which, as you might imagine, did not go down well.