Terrified tourists were seen running for safety in Times Square on Sunday as after three manhole fires led to a thunderous blast. However, no one was injured in the blast. Videos on social media showed rushing through the Crossroads of the World just before 7pm on Sunday.
One resident said that the blast was so massive that it shook her "whole apartment". The cause of the manhole explosion was not revealed by the FDNY but officials discovered that the carbon monoxide level had elevated multiple times after the blast. There were also reports that the blast was caused because of a cable outage.
Following the explosion at 215 West 43 Street between Times Square and 8th Avenue at 6:45 p.m., the FDNY responded to three manhole fires, according to fire officials. The cause of the manhole explosion was not revealed by the FDNY, although officials discovered increased carbon monoxide levels at 229 West 43rd Street after the blast.
A video posted on social media by a young woman filming the explosion shows the manhole as firefighters respond to the scene. The woman is seen running for cover after she hears an explosion. "What the f***?' What the f*** was that?" she is heard saying.
"Once I seen the fire, the cops are telling me to back up. I slowly start backing up, but still I started, like, then again, I started proceeding, like, to the fire and then it actually exploded right in front of me and that's when I was just, like, I started running," witness Lavier Pounds said.
Other videos shared on social media shows frightened tourists and locals fleeing the scene as they try to figure out what was going on.
During their examination of the area, firemen discovered high amounts of carbon monoxide in the cellar of 229 West 43rd Street, which were quickly remedied. Firefighters had left the area around 9 p.m.
However, according to Con Edison, the blast was caused by a cable failure. According to the utility, there were no outages or property damage.
The imprisoned manhole fires certainly created high volumes of the odorless and colorless gas, which can cause brain damage or death.
The explosion jolted an already nervous population, which has seen crime rise dramatically since the outbreak began. Overall crime in the city is up 44.13 percent year over year, with shooting victims up 14.5 percent.
The blast took place as crowds were gathering outside theaters for Broadway shows in the popular tourist hub. One video shows fearful crowds running down the sidewalk as others join in without knowing what's really happening. The panic ended a few seconds later but the square has been partly emptied by that time.
"Feeling relieved. With it being the start holy week, I was very scared. When I say my whole apartment shook, my goodness! Hoping to get more details on the manhole explosion. Two in two years. Wild," one person tweeted.
The city's fire department was supporting utility providers in determining the origin of the explosion-causing manhole fires. By 9 p.m., the site had been turned over to the utility providers.