A transformer exploded in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday, creating a roar and a huge plume of smoke and sending pedestrians fleeing from the area in scenes reminiscent of the September 11 attacks.
Police at the scene said 15 to 20 people had been taken to the hospital. CNN said three of the injured had been admitted to the New York Presbyterian Hospital emergency room.
In Washington, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official said there was no apparent link to terrorism.
"Right now it is a localized incident," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "At this point, we see no nexus to terrorism."
Officials said a ruptured steam pipe appeared to have caused the transformer to blow.
The explosion erupted during the evening rush hour in one of the busiest sections of New York City, near the transportation hub of Grand Central station.
A loud constant roar rang out through the streets.
Photograph by J.D. Griggs on February 3, 1988Steam explosions (also called littoral explosions, because they occur at the shoreline, or littoral zone) result when lava meets the sea. In the photograph above, the explosion sprays fragments of lava into the air. The smaller pieces are carried by currents and deposited in bays to form black sand beaches.
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