Bodies found at site of collapsed New York buildings

Bodies found at site of collapsed New York buildings
A car sits amongst the rubble after an explosion destroyed four buildings in New York March 27, 2015.

NEW YORK - New York police recovered two bodies Sunday from the rubble of a Manhattan building destroyed by a suspected gas explosion.

Two people had been reported missing from a sushi restaurant ravaged by Thursday's blast, which blew the front off a commercial and residential property on Second Avenue in East Village and led to a multi-building fire.

New York Police Department Sergeant Lee Jones told AFP that a body had "been recovered" around 1:00 pm (1700 GMT), but did not identify the victim.

The body was turned over to the medical examiner for identification, a spokesman said, adding that it had been found in the rubble of the building at 121 Second Avenue.

A second body was recovered from the site shortly afterwards, police said, without providing further details.

The two disappeared men were named as Nicholas Figueroa, 23, who had been on a date, and 26-year-old restaurant busboy Moises Lucon.

Police had previously said witness statements put both missing people in the sushi restaurant at the time of the explosion.

A total of 22 people were injured in the blast and subsequent fire, including six uniformed personnel.

New York's fire commissioner said it would take a week to clear the debris created by the incident, which leveled three properties and badly damaged a fourth.

The buildings have been destroyed and search and recovery operations took place all weekend, while the area was closed to circulation.

They are located in the bustling East Village neighborhood, home to many bars and restaurants.

A year ago, eight people were killed during a gas explosion that destroyed two apartment buildings in East Harlem.

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