Firefighters arrive at the scene of an apparent explosion in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, in New York, on Saturday. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Firefighters arrive at the scene of an apparent explosion in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, in New York, on Saturday. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

29 injured in New York City explosion

By KAREN MATTHEWS

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — An explosion in a crowded Manhattan neighborhood on Saturday night left 29 people injured, and authorities said a second nearby site was also being investigated. Mayor Bill de Blasio called the blast an “intentional act,” but said there was no terrorist connection.

“Tonight, New York City experienced a very bad incident,” de Blasio said at a news conference near the scene in Chelsea. “We have no credible and specific threat at this moment. “

De Blasio said the blast was “an intentional act” and tried to calm any fears among nervous New Yorkers, saying the explosion had no terrorist connection and wasn’t related to a pipe bomb explosion earlier Saturday in New Jersey at a charity run.

A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that a second device that officers were investigating four blocks from the scene appeared to be a pressure cooker attached to wiring and a cellphone. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak about an ongoing investigation, said the device was found inside a plastic bag on West 27th Street.

The law enforcement official also said that the explosion appears to have come from a construction toolbox in front of a building. New York officials said the incident was not due to a gas leak.

Photos from the scene show a twisted and crumpled black metal box.

The blast happened on West 23rd street, in front of a residence for the blind, near a major thoroughfare with many restaurants and a Trader Joe’s supermarket. Witnesses say the explosion at about 8:30 p.m. blew out the windows of businesses and scattered debris in the area. Officials said no evacuations were necessary.

Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said several people were taken to hospitals with injuries. One of the injured suffered a puncture wound that was considered serious. He said the other injuries were minor, described as scrapes and bruises.

Police spokesman J. Peter Donald tweeted a warning to residents near the second site that officials are investigating, saying: “As a precautionary measure, we are asking residents who live on West 27th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in Manhattan to stay away from windows facing 27th Street until we clear the suspicious.”

A number of New York City subway routes were affected by the explosion.

Chris Gonzalez, visiting from Dallas, was having dinner with friends at a restaurant in the area.

“We felt it, we heard it, the restaurant went real quiet, the 26-year-old Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t like jolting or anything, everyone just went quiet.”

Rudy Alcide, a bouncer at Vanity Nightclub at 21st Street and 6th Avenue, said he, at first, thought something large had fallen.

“It was an extremely loud noise, everything was shaking, the windows were shaking, it was crazy,” he said. “It was extremely loud, almost like thunder, but louder.”

The FBI and Homeland Security officials, along with the ATF arson and explosive task force are also at the scene.

The White House said President Barack Obama has been apprised of the explosion in New York City and will be updated as additional information becomes available.

In St. Cloud, Minnesota, police said multiple people were injured at a shopping mall Saturday evening in an attack that possibly involved both a shooting and stabbing. The suspect was believed to be dead.

Hillary Clinton says she has been briefed “about the bombings in New York and New Jersey and the attack in Minnesota.”

She says the nation needs to support its first responders and “pray for the victims.”

“We have to let this investigation unfold,” she said.

Donald Trump moved ahead of New York City officials when he declared a “bomb went off” in the city before officials had released details. He made the announcement minutes after stepping off his plane during a rally at an airport hangar in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I must tell you that just before I got off the plane a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows what’s going on,” Trump said.

He continued, “But boy we are living in a time — we better get very tough, folks. We better get very, very tough. It’s a terrible thing that’s going on in our world, in our country and we are going to get tough and smart and vigilant.”

The Republican presidential nominee made the comments around 9:10 p.m., shortly after the explosion and as emergency officials responded to the blast.

The reports of a possible blast come hours after a pipe bomb exploded in Seaside Park, New Jersey, shortly before thousands of runners participated in a charity 5K race to benefit Marines and sailors. No injuries were reported.

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