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An explosion that hit a crowded Manhattan neighborhood Saturday night and injured 29 people was an “intentional act” but has not been linked to terrorism, the city’s mayor said.
Less than three hours after the blast, an object police described as a “possible secondary device” was found a few blocks away. It was later sent to a NYPD range in the Bronx aboard a special containment vessel, the mayor’s office said. Three law enforcement sources described the find as a pressure cooker with items attached.
President Barack Obama was apprised of the situation, a White House official said.
The explosion on West 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Chelsea was reported at around 8:30 p.m. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, but one was serious, officials said.
“There is no evidence at this point of a terror connection to this incident,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at a late-night press conference, stressing that the investigation is in its early stages. He added: “The initial indication is this was an intentional act.”
Police had said the blast in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan appeared to come from inside a large trash bin, and photos on social media appeared to show a bin mangled in the explosion, but NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said the explosion is believed to have occurred on the street.
“It was a loud boom, a deep boom,” an eyewitness who was eating dinner nearby when the blast occurred said. “We all ran out and went down the street. You could feel it in your chest and in your legs.”
The exact nature and cause of the blast has not been determined, O’Neill said.
“We do have video, and we see the explosion,” he said, adding that no arrests had been.
The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force is on the scene. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said a New York arson and explosives task force was responding to the blast.
The “possible secondary device” was found at 27th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, the New York Police Department said on Twitter shortly after 11 p.m. ET.
Three law enforcement sources told NBC News investigators at the second location were examining what appeared to be a pressure cooker with “tape, wires and a cell phone” left on the sidewalk. The bomb squad was investigating although it had not been confirmed that the object is an explosive device.
“There was a loud boom and our entire apartment shook,” said Neha Jain, 24, who lives on West 23rd and Sixth Avenue. “All the pictures fell to the floor and then I heard people screaming.”
Jain said the explosion shattered the glass in her building’s lobby. “My first thought was it’s a bomb,” Jain said. “It’s quite terrifying.”
A large police presence, including the New York Office of Emergency Management and the NYPD’s counterterrorism unit responded to the scene.
There is a construction sites near the scene of the Chelsea explosion. Police searched cars and trash cans in the area.
Facebook activated its “Safety Check” feature so that users can easily notify friends and family members of their status.
Bellevue Hospital said it was treating nine patients from the explosion, all of whom are stable.
De Blasio also said the investigation has found no link to an explosive device that blew up in a Jersey Shore community earlier Saturday, and which occurred near a planned race route.
An official told NBC News that they were going “compare components from the New Jersey blast to evidence at ny scenes to see IF there are similarities in the devices”.
In that incident in Seaside Park, a device consisting of three pipe bombs exploded along the planned route of a 5K Marines charity race. No one was hurt. The explosive device was placed in a trash can in that incident, NBC New York reported.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she was briefed about the explosion as well as the explosive device in New Jersey, but said she would have more to say on the New York incident until the more is known. “Obviously, we need to do everything we can to support our first responders. Also to pray for the victims,” she said.
Her Republican rival, Donald Trump, mentioned the explosion at the start of an event in Colorado Springs, and said a “bomb” went off in New York. “Just before I got off the plane a bomb went off in New York, and nobody knows exactly what’s going on, but boy, we are living in a time,” Trump said. “We better get very tough, folks.”
Clinton also called the incident in New York a “bombing” when speaking to reporters Saturday night. New York officials have not said the explosion was a bomb.