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Fatal East Harlem explosion occurred one year ago this week

New Yorkers are used to an ever-changing city. Usually such changes are planned and positive, but not always. As an example of the latter, this week marks the one-year anniversary of a devastating explosion that leveled two buildings in mere minutes.

Readers may remember the March 12, 2014 gas-line explosion in East Harlem. Eight people lost their lives and dozens more lost their homes after a leaking gas pipeline led to a fiery explosion that could be felt a mile away or more.

To mark the anniversary, Mayor de Blasio visited the site of the explosion, which is now a fenced-off and empty lot. He noted: "A year ago, this whole city was rocked by this tragedy . . . Literally, for so many families, their world changed in just an instant. There’s no warning. There’s nothing that would have told them that morning that so much was about to change and so much pain was about to occur.”

What seems suspiciously absent in this case is an understanding of exactly what went wrong, whether the tragedy could have been avoided whether entities like Consolidated Edison may be liable for the deaths and property damage. The NY Times reports that residents in and near the two buildings smelled gas "in the days and weeks before the March 12 blast."

New York's aging infrastructure is a known problem, particularly its underground infrastructure. It is unclear in this case if the explosion could have been predicted and prevented, but many tragedies can be. It is up to city officials and utility providers to be as vigilant as possible before tragedy occurs.

Source: The New York Times, "Mayor de Blasio Marks Anniversary of Fatal Explosion in East Harlem," March 12, 2015

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