NEW YORK — The eight people reported missing after a deadly gas explosion have been recovered, the fire commissioner said Friday, but workers are still treating the scene as a rescue operation in case there are unknown survivors in the rubble.
Salvatore Cassano said no one else is known to be unaccounted for, but workers will continue to scour the debris from two flattened apartment buildings for victims. More than 60 people were injured and more than 100 others displaced by the Wednesday morning explosion in East Harlem.
Cassano said 60 to 70 percent of the debris had been cleared, with the pace was expected to quicken after firefighters removed a hazardous rear wall.
He predicted that detectives and fire marshals would gain access to the buildings’ basements by mid-day Saturday to begin the investigation into what caused the explosion.
Police have identified six of the dead: Griselde Camacho, 45, a Hunter College security officer; Carmen Tanco, 67, a dental hygienist who took part in church-sponsored medical missions to Africa and the Caribbean; Andreas Panagopoulos, 43, a musician; Rosaura Hernandez, 22, a restaurant cook; George Ameado, 44, a handyman who lived in one of the buildings that collapsed; and Alexis Salas, 22, a restaurant worker.
Officials in Mexico said a 43-year-old Mexican woman, Rosaura Barrios Vazquez, was among those killed.
The eighth body, a woman, was pulled from the rubble on Thursday. Her name has not been released.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who toured the shelter with other city officials, said Friday that the city would find temporary or long-term housing for about 50 displaced families, totaling more than 100 people.
Investigators were trying to pinpoint the gas leak and determine whether it had anything to do with the city’s aging gas and water mains, some of which were installed in the 1800s. The National Transportation Safety Board will conduct an inquiry.