New York, NY Boiler Explosion, Oct 1962
DEATHS AT 21; PROBE PUSHED IN N. Y. BLAST
One-Ton Boiler in Fatal Thrust; Disaster Called 'Unbelievable'
AT LEAST 100 HURT
Ravage Like a Battlefield; 19 of Fatality Toll Are Women
NEW YORK, Oct. 4 - (AP) A one-ton steam boiler blasted from its moorings in a telephone company building basement with incredible force yesterday and rocketed into an adjoining lunchroom, killing at lest 21 persons and injuring at least 100.
Nineteen of the dead were women whose ages ranged from 18 to 62.
An immediate investigation was launched to learn the cause of the disaster, described by one official as "unbelievable."
No Warning of Tragedy
The explosion occurred at 12:07 p. m., when about 100 employes of the New York Telephone company's uptown Manhattan building - most of them young women - were crowded in the basement lunchroom.
Without warning, the boiler blew and erupted into the room with the force of a jet-propelled projectile. It smashed its way up through the ceiling to the first floor, bounced back into the lunchroom and finally roared through an opposite wall. It destroyed or killed or maimed everything in its path.
Overturned desks, cabinets and bodies fell through the gaping hole left in the ceiling by the boiler's mad course as the basement was engulfed in a deadly embrace of steam, smoke and flames.
Area hospitals set up emergency facilities as doctors came from far and near to care for the injured.
Transit employes working nearby and others from every walk of life united in the face of human suffering and aided police and firemen in rescue operations.
Clergymen of various faiths came too, and theirs was the task of ministering to the final needs of the dead and the dying. These littered the sidewalk in grotesque postures of death and made the normally bustling area around the building at 213th street and Broadway look like a wartorn battlefield.
Move To Morgue
Dazed survivors and relatives and friends of employes in the building stood by and waited for news of their loved ones. Others moved to a makeshift morgue nearby, hoping against hope they would not find what they most feared.
The boiler that caused the disaster - one of three oil-burning boilers in the two-story building - had been cleaned last week and placed back into service less than an hour before the tragedy.
Police said the boiler room supervisor, ANTHONY McCANN, 31, of Dumont, N. J., whose duties did not require constant attendance to the boilers, had left the building to cash a check only 10 minutes before the blast.
Officials Begin Probe
The city fire and building departments and the New York county district attorney's office began immediate investigations into the cause of the explosion.
The responsibility for safety checks of boilers, lies with both the fire and building departments. The district attorney's office was looking into the possibility of criminal negligence, a spokesman said.
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