Death Count Rises to 7 in New York City Building Explosion; Nearly 70 Injured in Blast

At least seven people have died in Wednesday's Harlem building blast, according to reports. The explosion, which New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio attributes to a gas leak, occurred at 9:30 a.m. and reverberated blocks away. Nine people remain missing.

“This is a tragedy of the worse kind because there was no indication in time to save people,” de Blasio said. “There will be a search through the rubble of the building once the fire has been put out.”

Neighbors reported smelling a gas odor about 15 minutes before the explosion. The two buildings at 116th Street and Park Avenue, which housed a church and a piano store, collapsed around 9:30 a.m. Dark, choking smoke billowed from the area for hours afterward. The blast blew out glass windows, scattered debris onto nearby streets, and tied up mass transit.

The FDNY released video footage of the scene Wednesday evening.

New York City Fire Department (FDNY) on YouTube

New Yorkers didn't know what happened at first, with first reactions ranging from "It sounded like a bomb" to "I thought a train had exploded."

Nine people are currently unaccounted for, according to ABC. One teenager was frantically looking for his aunt, whom he says lived in an apartment in one of the buildings.

References to Sept. 11, 2001, were quick to spread. “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,” Rep. Charlie Rangel told NBC.