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August 29, 2014

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Tests detected gas underground after NYC blast

Image

Mark Lennihan / AP

Rescue workers remove an injured person on a stretcher following a building explosion and collapse in East Harlem, Wednesday, March 12, 2014 in New York.

NYC Explosion

Emergency crews respond to an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. The blast happened after a neighbor reported smelling natural gas. Launch slideshow »

NEW YORK — Federal investigators say underground tests conducted in the hours after a deadly New York City gas explosion detected the presence of natural gas.

NTSB team member Robert Sumwalt says the latest information seems to support the hypothesis that the explosion, which killed eight people, was caused by a gas leak.

Sumwalt said Friday that the utility Consolidated Edison dug 50 holes about 18 to 24 inches deep around the blast site and measured gas levels in those cavities soon after the explosion.

He says the gas concentration was up to 20 percent in at least five spots. He says normal levels in New York City soil should be zero.

He says workers have begun the process of pressure testing pipes to identify possible holes.

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