A steam pipe has ruptured in New York, killing at least one person and injuring 18 others.The blast, which happened around six pm in midtown Manhattan, sent a column of steam, rocks and brackish, boiling water nine storeys into the air. A six metre wide crater was left in the middle of Lexington Avenue at its junction with 41st street on the East Side.
Nearly 200 firefighters rushed to the scene, while thousands of passengers were evacuated from the nearby transport hub of Grand Central Station. Six square blocks were cordoned off and the subway system on the east side severely disrupted.
The plume of steam was contained around 90 minutes after the explosion, revealing a vehicle stuck in the hole.
Amid scenes of panic and chaos reminiscent of 9-11, officials tried to calm the situation.
The New York Police Department and the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, were quick to state that the incident was not terrorism-related.
The 60 centimetre pipe was installed under Lexington Avenue in 1924, and carried steam for a variety of industrial purposes. Experts say the blast may have been caused by cold water getting into the system.
It is the latest public embarrassment for utility company ConEd, which is already under scrutiny after a serious of power cuts.