Second coronavirus case confirmed in New York state, U.S. cases top 100

By Maria Caspani

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A man who lives in a New York suburb and works in Manhattan tested positive for the novel coronavirus, bringing the total confirmed cases in the state to two, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday.

The 50-year-old man had an underlying respiratory illness and is hospitalized, Cuomo said at a news conference. He added that the patient had not traveled to countries considered the epicenter of the outbreak but had visited Miami recently.

Cuomo disclosed the second case after an Orthodox Jewish school in New York City canceled classes on Tuesday to allow for precautionary measures after a suspected case of coronavirus turned up within its community.

The SAR Academy and SAR High School in the Riverdale section of the Bronx borough said it was in touch with the city’s Department of Health and following its guidelines.

“At this time it important to remain calm,” a statement from school officials said.

The co-educational school, which describes itself as “modern Orthodox,” urged people to follow steps to prevent and minimize the spread of the infection, which had led to the reported deaths of six people in the United States as of Monday evening, all of them in Washington state.

About 100 people nationwide have tested positive for the virus, including the two people in New York, according to health officials.

There are more than 90,000 cases of the new coronavirus globally, with more than 80,000 of them in China. China’s death toll is 2,943, with more than 75 deaths elsewhere as 77 other countries and territories have reported the respiratory disease.

The man who tested positive remains hospitalized in serious condition, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement, adding that the confirmation was made by the New York City Public Health Laboratory on its first day of testing.

“With the results confirmed within a number of hours, we were immediately able to take next steps to stop the spread of this virus,” de Blasio said. “We have said from the beginning that it is likely we will see more positive cases of the coronavirus.”

Previously all testing was conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a process that created in a delay of several days before the result was known.

The U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates on Tuesday in an emergency move designed to shield the world’s largest economy from the impact of the coronavirus. The Fed said it was cutting rates by a half percentage point to a target range of 1.00% to 1.25%.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York; writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by David Gregorio and Grant McCool)

Asbestos from New York steam pipe blast forces evacuations

New York Fire Department watch as an emergency responder examines the scene near a steam pipe explosion in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, U.S., July 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Peter Szekely and Tea Kvetenadze

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Residents and workers from 49 buildings near the site of an early-morning steam pipe explosion in Manhattan were evacuated, many for at least two days, on Thursday after lung-damaging asbestos was found on debris from the blast, officials said.

The findings raised concerns that asbestos, which had encased the 86-year-old ruptured pipe, may have spread to the street, buildings and ventilation systems, all of which would need to be decontaminated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“Now that we know there’s asbestos present, we’re not going to cut any corners,” de Blasio told reporters at the scene. “We’re going to be thorough.”

View of Midtown Manhattan's steam pipe explosion in New York City, U.S., July 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

View of Midtown Manhattan’s steam pipe explosion in New York City, U.S., July 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Street closings and the evacuations of 28 buildings in the “hot zone” near the explosion at Fifth Avenue and West 21 Street will probably last until the weekend while crews decontaminate the area, de Blasio said.

Some of the 49 buildings on the outer fringe of the explosion area may be reopened by Thursday evening, he said.

“People will not be let back into their apartments until we have cleared their building,” the mayor said.

Spokesmen for the Office of Emergency Management and the Fire Department said they had no estimate of how many residents were affected by the evacuation order.

The steam pipe, installed in 1932, blew up at the start of the morning rush hour near Manhattan’s sharply angled Flatiron Building, opening a giant crater in the street and creating an urban geyser that sent a vapor plume into the air for hours.

The only direct injuries from the blast were minor, officials said.

Dr. Herminia Palacio, deputy mayor of health and human services, said the main risks were from repeated exposure to asbestos fibers, rather than brief, temporary contact.

Officials urged anyone who may be contaminated to shower and remove their clothes, bag them and bring them to Consolidated Edison Inc, the power company that maintains the steam line.

The blast, the cause of which was under investigation, may have damaged other subterranean lines in the vicinity that carry water, gas and electricity, all which have been shut down until repairs are done, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

The steam pipes are part of a 136-year-old system that Con Ed said is the nation’s largest steam network, stretching from the southern tip of Manhattan to 96th Street.

Although the blast and the resulting street closings snarled vehicular traffic in the immediate area, other commuting disruptions were minimal.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely and Tea Kvetenadze; Editing by Scott Malone, Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)

Three injured in fire atop N.Y.’s Trump Tower, officials say

New York Fire Department crew respond after a fire broke out at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. January 8, 2018.

By Peter Szekely

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Three people were injured in an early-morning fire at the top of Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, the New York Fire Department said on Monday, as the city’s workday rush began.

U.S. President Donald Trump was in Washington at the time. Trump’s primary residence was in the building before his election victory and inauguration nearly a year ago.

One firefighter was hospitalized with nonlife-threatening injuries, while two people received minor injuries that were treated at the scene, including a building worker whose injury was initially described as serious, the Fire Department said.

Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, said on Twitter that it was a small electrical fire in the cooling tower on the building’s roof.

A smoke is seen rising from the roof of Trump Tower.

A smoke is seen rising from the roof of Trump Tower.
TWITTER/@NYCBMD

“The New York Fire Department was here within minutes and did an incredible job,” said the younger Trump. “The men and women of the #FDNY are true heros and deserve our most sincere thanks and praise!”

The Fire Department said the fire was not inside the building, but on top of it.

“We had flames coming out of the vents. No smoke condition or fire was on the inside,” Manhattan Borough Commander Assistant Chief Roger Sakowich said on Twitter.

The cause of the blaze is being investigated by the city fire marshal, a department spokesman said.

Once the investigation is complete, the results will be released, the spokesman, Firefighter Jim Long, said.

As firefighters battled the blaze, a plume of smoke spewed from the roof of the 68-story structure.

The fire was reported by phone shortly before 7 a.m. EST (noon GMT) on the top floor of the building, and was declared under control about an hour and 15 minutes later, the department said.

Some 84 firefighters and medical crews responded as 26 emergency units with lights flashing converged on the crowded midtown Manhattan location, it added.

In addition to the president’s 66th-floor penthouse, Trump Tower houses the headquarters of the Trump Organization as well as other residences, offices and stores.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely; Editing by Scott Malone and Jeffrey Benkoe)

New York charges Times Square bomb suspect; Bangladesh questions wife

New York charges Times Square bomb suspect; Bangladesh questions wife

By Ruma Paul and Daniel Trotta

DHAKA/NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York officials on Tuesday said they charged a Bangladeshi man with terrorism, accusing him of setting off a pipe bomb a day earlier in a crowded Manhattan commuter hub, as investigators in his home country questioned his wife.

Akayed Ullah, 27, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, supporting an act of terrorism, and making a terroristic threat under New York state law, the New York Police Department said, adding U.S. authorities may also bring federal charges.

Investigators in Bangladesh were questioning Ullah’s wife, according to two officials who declined to be identified as they were not permitted to discuss the matter publicly. They did not provide details on the questioning, but said the couple have a six-month-old baby boy.

“We have found his wife and in-laws in Dhaka. We are interviewing them,” one of the police officials told Reuters.

New York police say Ullah set off a pipe bomb in an underground corridor of the subway system that connects Times Square to the Port Authority Bus Terminal at rush hour on Monday morning, injuring himself and three others.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called it an attempted terrorist attack, and U.S. officials said it appeared to be a rare if not unprecedented attempt at suicide bombing on U.S. soil.

Ullah survived with burns and lacerations and was taken to hospital in police custody. The three bystanders sustained minor injuries.

The NYPD and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were conducting the investigation in conjunction with other agencies through the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and were asking the public for any information about the suspect.

Authorities in Bangladesh began to track down Ullah’s family soon after news of the attack broke and they first found a cousin, said a third official, Mahiuddin Mahmud.

“We learned from his cousin that he had a wife and a baby in Bangladesh,” Mahmud said.

The cousin, Emdad Ullah, told Reuters that Ullah and his family originally lived in the Chittagong region in southern Bangladesh, but had moved to the capital, Dhaka, years ago.

Ullah married a Bangladeshi woman about two years ago and she lived in Dhaka, the cousin said, adding that he was educated in Bangladesh before he moved to the United States.

Bangladesh’s police chief had told Reuters on Monday that Ullah had no criminal record in his home country, which he last visited in September.

Ullah lived with his mother, sister and two brothers in Brooklyn and was a green card holder, said Shameem Ahsan, consul general of Bangladesh in New York.

A U.S. enforcement official familiar with the investigation into Monday’s attack said officers had found evidence that Ullah had watched Islamic State propaganda on the internet.

IMMIGRATION REFORM

Bangladesh strongly condemned the attack.

“A terrorist is a terrorist irrespective of his or her ethnicity or religion, and must be brought to justice,” the government said in a statement.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said the attack emphasized the need for U.S. immigration reforms.

“America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country,” he said in a statement.

The president also criticized the visa program that allowed Ullah to enter the United States in 2011 because he had family members already in the country, saying such family visas are “incompatible with national security.”

H.T. Imam, a political adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said he believed the attack would have no “negative impact” on relations with the United States.

“The U.S. government is well informed about the Bangladesh government’s attitude regarding terror activities,” Imam said.

The U.S. Supreme Court last week handed a victory to Trump by allowing his latest travel ban, targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries, to go into full effect even as legal challenges continued in lower courts.

The ban covers people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen seeking to enter the United States. Trump has said the travel ban is needed to protect the United States from terrorism by Islamist militants.

Bangladesh is not among the countries impacted by the ban.

(Additional reporting by Serajul Quadir; Writing by Euan Rocha and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum)

New York police responding to explosion in Manhattan

Subway Map Header Manhattan, NY

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York emergency authorities were responding to reports of an explosion at New York’s Port Authority, one of the city’s busiest commuter hubs, during Monday morning’s rush hour.

Local news channel WABC cited police sources as saying a possible pipe bomb detonated in a passageway below ground at Port Authority.

Media reported several people were injured, and WPIX television reported, citing sources, that a man with a “possible second device” has been detained in the subway tunnel.

The New York Police Department said in its official Twitter feed that there was an explosion of unknown origin and that some subway train lines were being evacuated.

(Reporting By Nick Zieminski in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Several people killed by vehicle on New York City bike path

Several people killed by vehicle on New York City bike path

By Gina Cherelus and Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Several people were killed and numerous others injured in New York City on Tuesday afternoon after a vehicle drove down a bike path that runs alongside the Hudson River in Manhattan, police said.

The New York City Police Department, in a post on Twitter, said that one vehicle struck another, then the driver of one of the vehicles “got out displaying imitation firearms and was shot by police.”

Police said the suspect was taken into custody.

A police spokesman posted a photo showing a white pickup truck on the bike path with its front end smashed. The truck had the logo of the Home Depot hardware store chain on its door.

An witness told ABC Channel 7 that he saw a white pick-up truck drive south down the bike path alongside the West Side Highway at full speed and hit several people. The witness, who was identified only as Eugene, said bodies were lying outside Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s elite public schools.

He also reported hearing about nine or 10 shots, but was not sure where they came from.

A video apparently filmed at the scene and circulated online showed scattered bikes on the bike path and two people lying on the ground.

City Hall said Mayor Bill de Blasio had been briefed about the incident. The office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the governor was heading to the scene.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen, Anna Driver, Dan Trotta and Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)