tv Dateline Extra MSNBC September 17, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
there are no fatalities. that is the good news. what we understand at the moment is that they are continuing to look garbage to garbage can, car to car in a systematic fashion. this picture on the left-hand side is what we had earlier on of what appeared to be a garbage dumpster which appeared to be deformed. unknown if this is where the explosion or one of the explosions happened. you can see it is broken in some way and there's some items that are still inside. in the upper right-hand part of your screen, you get a sense of what is happening right now in the streets. again, lower manhattan. 24 injuries. that number up from what it was about 45 minutes ago when it was 15 injuries. that is what we know right now at the top of the hour at msnbc in this breaking news story that
we're following at the moment. the concern is another explosion or secondary explosion. richard engel was talking with us about 30 minutes ago. richard, what's different now? >> well, the number of injured has gone up, and more emergency services have arrived on the scene, but there is not an escalating sense of danger or an escalating sense of concern here. there are many uniformed officers from the fire department, also from the national guard. they are mostly standing around. the fire department are wearing their oxygen tanks on their backs in case they need to respond. i've been watching bomb-sniffing dogs. there is a massive response. if anyone doubted new york city did not have the capability to respond due to an emergency,
they have been mistaken. there has been a very quick and overwhelming response to this. what we don't know, however, what this is. we don't know if this was an accident, if this was an act of terrorism, if this was a criminal act. a police officer told me get back. there was an explosion. he said there were reports of an explosion in a dumper, reports of broken glass and windows, but this is an area that is very busy. i was here at the time. i heard a loud bang. i didn't see any explosion, but i heard what sounded like perhaps a scaffolding collapse, a loud noise. it didn't sound to me frankly like a massive military style explosion. it sounded more like something collapsing, and i came out to see what it was. and as i've been here for the last hour or so, i've just seen
a scene of flashing lights converging on this area. there is not a smell of smoke. there is not fire. there is still helicopters in the air. i saw one person about an hour ago, maybe 40 minutes ago, taken away in a stretcher, but he didn't seem to be in a very severe condition. so i think at this stage they're trying to figure out what happened and if this is an ongoing situation, but judging from the body language and the positioning here, they don't appear to be concerned that this is a massively developing, rapidly developing situation. >> the key point you're making there, richard, is does not appear to be great escalation which is for the most part a good thing as we do watch which is very early in what is happening right now there in lower manhattan. richard, if you can also, describe what you are seeing in the streets because the video that we've got shows that for
the most part in the streets themselves those have been cleared. we do see some pedestrians in some places. is that what you're seeing there? >> well, this is one of the most popular night life areas in new york. it is full of bars. it is full of restaurants. it is an area on any saturday night where you would see lots of people going out and walking and walking their dogs and enjoying the evening. and it was that kind of evening. i was walking around myself when i sort of heard this and decided to go out. this is a crowded area with restaurants and shops. not a particularly military target. not a police area. not a military base. it is a night life district of manhattan. also a mixed neighborhood.
multiethnic. it is an area of this part of west chelsea that is known for -- some people call it part of the gay community in new york. it is a popular multifaceted part of new york city. but really at this stage i don't to get ahead of ourselves of what may have happened or why this was targeted because we really don't know what happened. we just know there was a bang. i heard a bang, and now we're seeing lots of lots of police in this area. and i think the latest was 24 injured. you may where you're standing have better numbers on that. >> right. >> no fatalities as far as i understand. >> no fatalities. that number has been changing on the injured. 25 injured reported by the fdny, the new york fire department. stand by, richard engel, if you
can, who is there on location very close to the reported explosion. jonath jonathan dienst also with this us this hour. what do you know in terms of what is happening on the ground and the 25 injuries? >> that's right. first, 25 injuries. that's according to the new york city fire department. that's going to change as they piece all of this together. one of the victims is a pregnant woman, and she was taken we believe to bellevue medical center. again, none of the injuries we're told are life threatening, but just an example of quite the scare and level of concern that they have in that area. now, what caused this? we are told from several law enforcement officials that the explosion took place from inside a dumpster there on 23rd street and they are looking into the possibility that this was an
improvised explosive device. they have not confirmed that because they need to do a thorough search of what actually went off. another theory is construction is nearby. did somebody throw in a propane tank in the dumpster and that somehow exploded? they are doubtful about that, but that is still a theory. that's not why they're calling this an explosive device at this time. they are counting or taking a look at several possibilities. the fbi's joint terrorism task force members are on scene, the nypd bomb squad, the commissioner of counterterrorism and intelligence are on scene, and we are trying to get updates in realtime as they happen. some of the work that's going on around the scene, the nypd bomb squad is not searching garbage cans and the immediate area for any possibility if this was a device, is there a second device anywhere. we're told down the street they're taking a look at a box
that was left on a sidewalk. does not appear to be nefarious, but it's the kind of work that's being done as a precaution at this hour. 25 injuries. one of them we are told from a senior city official is a pregnant woman. none of the injuries life threatening. they're looking into the possibility that this was an improvised explosive device left in a dumpster, but they haven't found definitive evidence of that yet and there's still the possibility that this was construction debris or propane tank or something else. the investigation still in its early stages. fbi and nypd on scene. all this coming here in the new york area after new jersey earlier today there was a device left in a garbage can just before a race that was sponsored by the marines. there was concern in new jersey about an explosive device that went off in a garbage can at 9:30 this morning.
now this explosion in manhattan certainly raising eyebrows. the cause of the manhattan explosion not yet known for sure. the one in new jersey was a confirmed ied. investigations ongoing in both states at this hour. as you see the breaking developments right now here in manhattan in chelsea, 23rd and 6th, very crowded on a saturday night, as richard was explaining. again, about 25 injuries. none of them life threatening. >> jonathan, that incident that happened there in seaside park, new jersey, about two hours outside of what is happening right now, no confirmed linkages yet, but of course you bring up that question. there was a person on the run related to that explosion in seaside park, new jersey. right now, we have this explosion 12 hours later. jonathan, if you're still with us, i do want to ask you -- you were mentioning that dumpster,
and i'll go back to the picture that questiwe got very early on. it probably is too early. but when we look at this and you bring up the potential that the law enforcement and the police department is looking into at the moment, any mention of what that dumpster might be? of course, this is that picture that came out earlier. it says bic-1323 on the side of it. jonathan? >> -- regarding what happened here in and what caused that explosion. that's quite an explosion to do that kind of damage to that dumpster. we're told there was a car right alongside that was also damaged. we have seen some windows that may have been blown out in and around the scene. certainly there is concern given the force of the blast. is this some sort of construction dispute between companies? is this terror? is this just some sort of someone trying to build a homemade device, if that's what
it is? unclear. far too soon to know. that's why the fbi, the bomb squad, are all on scene in that vicinity doing an investigation. they're going to walk their way into that dumpster scene from the blast site in, looking for pieces, looking for materials. is there shrapnel? is there a cell phone? what was it that blew up inside that dumpster that caused all this damage, that caused these 20-plus injuries on a crowded night in the chelsea section of manhattan? >> quickly here, jonathan. there are a few folks that know new york city better than you do. what is this area like? give us some context quickly about where this has reportedly happened. >> all right. well, this is 23rd and 6th, so it is a very busy avenue. 6th avenue runs north up through the heart of midtown.
there are apartment buildings there. very nice apartments. there are businesses in that region. and one other note. what's going on in new york city this week, we have the united nations general assembly. president obama set to arrive here in new york tomorrow afternoon. you have other heads of state and leaders arriving in new york for the u.n. general assembly that's supposed to take place. the major part of it all next week, so there's major concern. you have diplomatic security services. you have the nypd and homeland security escorting heads of state all around town. they began arriving in the middle of this past week. the fact that there's this explosion in midtown is causing some concern among all law enforcement to get an answer fast as to what is it. the hope is that it is some construction accident, that it is not an intentionally placed device, but if it is, who put it
there and why? >> that's good context there, jonathan. the general assembly, that's when we have world leaders from everywhere gathering here in manhattan. it's been traffic gets very difficult. jonathan, stand by. i want to go back to richard engel who is close to the scene about a block away. richard, you heard what jonathan was describing to us and the piece of information, the questions about, you know, was it a propane tank reportedly in the dumpster, what was potentially a car next to it that was damaged as well, was it a construction site. you may be just outside of view of where we reportedly have heard this explosion has happened, but either of those two, the propane tank, the construction site, is that, if you will, within the area you
can see? richard engel, are you there? richard engel sounds like is there close to the location. with cell phone access, it could be at the moment he's not able to get to the phone. tom winter also from nbc investigations close by there. and we have jonathan dienst here with wnbc. we also have jim cavanaugh, a former atf agent. you've been able to listen to all the information here. jim, i was trying to ask questions that you would. of course, you are the expert here. what would be one of the questions you would ask at the moment of information that may be available to us to try to understand what may have happened here on 23rd street between 6th and 7th? jim cavanaugh, are you there?
>> as jonathan described it and tom, very good reporting here, the witnessing describing the loud noise, the reverberations, windows broken on the building there, so this is exactly the kind of a blast you would have inside a dumpster. you have pointed out the mangled dumpster. we've seen the photographs. it's more like the size of a trash bin. what you get is this cannon effect because it is an all metal container. i would be the most concerned about is somebody testing a mixture. why throw it in a dumpster? you do have some injuries, but i'd be really concerned that somebody, an urban person here, is concocting a mixture here or testing it. a mortar gives a very loud report. it could mangle a dumpster like
that. it could take a fairly good amount to do that. it would. if in fact it is a homemade bomb or ied, i'd be concerned mostly if somebody is trying to test a mixture if it doesn't look like a device that has a container or timer or a directed purpose. just think about somebody in that congested area of chelsea. i've been on those streets. we know how tight everything is there. there's not much room to test something, so that would concern me. really nypd and fdny and the bomb squad, they've got to get in there and find out the cause of that. it's not out of the realm of possibilities that somebody has thrown a tank in there two weeks ago improperly, a propane tank. it slowly leaked. somebody tossed a cigarette in
there. you can't positively say this is a homemade bomb or ied. you have to get in there. you have to dig through all that junk. it's the unglamorous life of the bomb squad and the bomb investigators to do that, to find out, to find the pieces. if it is someone testing just a mixture, you know, that may just be a bag of explosives, a plastic bag filled with the explosives or some kind of cardboard container, and there may not be a lot of material to find. that would trouble me the most because then you would be trying to test the residue to see exactly what it was that was in there. >> if you're just joining us, we're following this story coming out of lower manhattan. what we know at the moment because of an explosion that happened in lower manhattan around 8:30 p.m. that is about an hour and 45 minutes ago. there are 25 reported injuries. that number has grown over time within the last hour and 45 minutes. no fatalities. we are hearing from the new york
fire department at this time. but that number did grow from about an hour ago from what was 13 or 14 now up to -- it was 15 at the time. now it's up to 25 injuries. they are clearing the streets, the area. increasing the cordon. the tempo, the tone, at the location tends to be very calm. yet very careful. clearing the streets. yet some pedestrians in the way. there are national guard and new york city police department and fdny has been reported on the location. we've been following this of course since the beginning about an hour and 45 minutes since the reported explosion has happened. 25 injuries. that's what we know right now happening in lower manhattan. the concern of course secondary explosions. that could happen. there's also what will be happening as we speak, which is a u.n. general assembly warming up. world leaders will be coming
into the new york city area. president obama will be here on tuesday to address that very assembly. of course, that is the backdrop. that is the concern. this is what is happening right now. let's go straight to some sound. an interview with one eyewitness that was there at the location. let's go to that right now. >> describe what you were doing and what happened. >> i was in the bedroom. the next thing i knew i opened the window. i saw a police car coming. we go out and see what's going on. i live on the ninth floor, you worry something heavy has come out. >> tell me what street you live on and then tell me what it sounded like and what it felt like me. >> for me, like big building
crash or some heavy things that come out, like bomb or something like this. >> it sounded like a heavy thing fell? >> yeah, like very heavy thing fell. >> did your apartment shake? >> not shake. just very heavy something coming down. >> okay. one of the eyewitness accounts there. evidently a resident that was close by. he mentioned 6th avenue. this happened on 23rd between 6th and 7th. that sounds very close to where at least he's described he lived on the ninth floor and that it sounded like to him something very heavy had fallen and/or a building had crashed. he also said it was bomblike. again, his description. we do not have any confirmation of what caused or what this explosion might be. getting eyewitness accounts at the moment as well as reports
from our reporters there on the ground of what they're seeing right now and what was heard. let's go to malcolm nance, who has been following the details along the way with us. as you look at this here, malcolm, the concern that has been mentioned by not only jim cavanaugh, richard engel, tom winter is secondary explosions. then if you have a secondary explosion, what that means with regard to planning. what are you looking at right now from the limited information we have, malcolm? >> well, they've all made a very good point about secondary explosions, which is why the police have evacuated 23rd street completely from 6th avenue all the way back to 7th. they don't know what they're dealing with. every time you have an ied like this, or improvised explosive device, they have to assume certainly after the 1996 olympic
park bombings that there's going to be a secondary explosion or secondary device, which is designed to hurt or kill the first responders. what they do is they respond to these attacks, they sanitize the area, and then they wait until bomb squad can clear the rest of it. based on what little information we have -- and i've been watching this situation all day. earlier today, there was an ied explosion in seaside park, new jersey. that device was four pipe bombs based on what little we know now where one of them detonated in between a fun run and a 5k race in a trash can. it was dropped inside a trash can. then we see later on tonight relatively close by just up the shore to new york city. >> we have two hours by car, right? >> right. two hours by car. we have this ied later in the evening. for me, there's no such thing as
a coincidence when you have a second device like that. coincidence, we say in the intelligence community, takes a lot of planning. you have device in new jersey intended to injury people at a race and then a person turning to a crowded area like new york city. the thing to note that's interesting is that right at the avenue of americas and right at the 23rd street train station, the subway station. someone could have come -- it's also a two-way major thoroughfare for this city. somebody could have come up there, stopped a vehicle, dropped a bomb in a trash can or just thrown it out of a vehicle, or they could have come up from the metro and down from the metro. coming to that intersection gives them a lot of different access ways in and access ways out. one interesting thing from the eyewitness, he said there was a large thud as if something had fallen from the building, but he
didn't have his windows shake. he didn't feel vibration. the yield of the device was loud enough to make a large noise, but not enough to really give you that vibration from a large-scale explosive device. that tells me it is probably a smaller explosive device that was contained within a non-explosive container like a trash can. so i've got two devices which appear similar. the one in new jersey and the one in new york. until real evidence comes out, mayor bratton says everybody should hold their fire about what it is until the police department comes out with confirmed information, but people in my field are looking at this as if this is an amateurish attack. any attempt is not amateur. any attempt is serious. but an attack like this using pipe bombs leads back to someone
who is not a serious, serious professional. we always wait to see what is going to follow on here. this may be a secondary attack. we don't know if there's going to be a third attack or if the person is going to sit back and watch television right now and see what the effect of these events are. for right now, all we can do is speculate. there are things coming out based on the geographical location of these devices. >> i'm going to go back to the dumpster and get your very quick assessment and limited information, but stand by if you can. >> sure. >> msnbc terrorist analyst for us, malcolm nance. i want to go to another one of our producers who is close to the location of the reported explosion. josh, you were not there for the explosion itself, i understand, but where are you at and what are you seeing? >> i am currently at the flat
iron building just right on 5th avenue. i was walking with a friend moments before i saw people running from the 6th avenue area where this explosion was reported. i was shocked that i didn't hear anything given how many people i saw that were running from the scene. almost an immediate police response. i was able to walk very quickly toward 6th avenue to see the scene. everything was very blocked off very quickly. the response was very swift. a lot of counterterrorism police officers walking around with their flashlights looking inside of vehicles for anything suspicious and very calmly getting people out of the area where they were investigating and blocking off street after street as they very calmly got people to safety. it was a very quick response, but i've been shocked at how many people on the street say i
didn't hear an explosion. >> what we're just hearing at the moment is the patient count now is 26. 23 patients, this is according to city officials. 26, that's the patient count. 23 of them with minor injuries. one patient has moderate injuries. the condition of two additional patients not currently known. you can see the location on your left-hand side of bellevue hospital where those who were injured were taken. no reported fatalities at this moment. that is the new count for us. unfortunately, 26 injuries. 23 patients with minor injuries. i want to go straight to an interview that n brks krrks niec night ly news anchor lester holt had. >> i heard an explosion.
from what i've been told it was a pipe explosion. >> like a pipe bomb. >> like a cannon or a bazooka. >> nothing you would normally hear in manhattan. >> something definitely was wrong because everybody heard it. everybody in this radius heard it. >> did you see anyone who might have been injured by it? >> no. >> have you heard of anyone injured? >> six or seven employees saw people with blood. i didn't see nobody bleeding. >> but you heard it? >> yeah, i heard the boom. >> how do you feel? >> it exhilarated my blood. my blood started pumping. once i didn't see nothing, i was waiting to hear from somebody else. >> what do you do at the hotel? >> i like work the front desk. welcoming guests to my hotel 24th and 27th.
>> "nightly news" anchor lester holt going to the streets speaking with one employee from the hotel describing what he had heard and what he had seen. josh, what's happening on the streets? what's the sense of urgency that you're seeing, because again the pictures that we're watching shows -- again, they're clear and they're moving in a very methodical way. >> yes, i'm one block away from where this scene is happening. obviously, you have a lot of police presence, a lot of first responders, a lot of fire trucks here on 5th avenue. typically new yorkers not l letting this faze them, but people are keeping a quick lookout. it is a calm scene despite the reported chaos here. >> thank you for that. n
nbc producer stand by. i want to go back to jonathan dienst. earlier on you were giving us some details about those who were injured as well as some of the theories that local law enforcement was looking at. what do you have? >> well, the very latest with law enforcement, the police and the mayor is en route and there may be a press conference coming up in the next half hour about a block from where this explosion took place where the city officials, the police will brief the press on everything they know at this time. a senior law enforcement official tells us what is happening now at the scene is there are nypd bomb squad technicians who are there who are making sure everything is safe and secure in and around the area. arson and explosion investigators will come in and assist and help in terms of trying to piece this together. we're told fbi and jttf agents are also on the scene
investigating. sometimes in new york where there's an explosion or a gas situation, the jttf will send one or two members up to make sure it was an accident. in this case it was a full blown contingent of investigators that are responding, that is on scene, that is joining the nypd. it shows you seriously they are taking this. again, backing up to where we're at, there's no confirmation that this was a bomb or improvised explosive device. there's still the possibility when you look at some of this video -- there's a construction zone right nearby, and they're still entertaining the possibility that something was inside that dumpster that was related to construction or that somebody put in there that was not nefarious, that was an
accident. but in the back of their minds, as we have been speaking about, you had that incident in new jersey this morning where an explosive device went off in a garbage can before a race. now you have an explosion in midtown tonight where 25 people who are injured, including a pregnant woman who is in serious, but stable condition. she among the casualties here tonight. a tremendous law enforcement and emergency response. again, we're expecting a briefing from police and perhaps even the mayor who we were told is en route to the scene to brief the press on exactly what they know at this time. all this happening in manhattan where all the world leaders are coming to new york for this united nations conference. >> again, jonathan, i just want to update those who are following the story with us. we understand from a white house official that president obama has been updated on what is
happening here in lower manhattan, that he will continue to receive updates with more information. again, a white house official telling us that. jonathan dienst, this process of integrating and working with and coordinating with federal officials fairly common here in new york city, fairly common here in manhattan with regard to many of the events that happen. this included. >> yeah, there are more than 500 members of new york's joint terrorism task force. the new york city police department every day employs 1,000 officers in counterterrorism exercises. that could be heavily armed security officers. it's a coordination between more than two dozen agencies that are working every day to try to protect this city after the
events of 9/11. federal, state, and local. they're all working together. they're all responding to the scene. and you'll see at the press conference that's expected within the next half hour. again, these things do shift as officials try to get information. we were told in the next half hour expect a briefing from some of the law enforcement and emergency agencies to provide us with an update with the best that they know. as of now, again they do not have a solid answer as to what caused this explosion. ied a leading theory. possibility of a construction-related accident or something else still out there. they won't know until the bomb techs get in there, until the jttf, arson explosion investigators get in there to get a good look at the remnants of whatever it was that blew up inside that dumpster, but it was a pretty powerful explosion to cause that kind of damage to a dumpster, to cars on the street, to 25 people on the sidewalk, to windows that got blown out.
there is great concern among law enforcement that this may have been some sort of deliberate act. >> jonathan dienst, thank you so much for that. what we're learning from you is that we expect a briefing within the next 30 minutes. also new at this point of this story now at the bottom of the hour, 26 injuries. that's up by one since our last update. we'll continue of course to watch the very latest come from jonathan dienst. brian williams on the phone with us now. one of the things that you know are those cameras that are stationed in certain locations in manhattan. this happening over the last 15 years out of an abundance of caution here looking at the details that would be related to an incident like this. >> richard, it's almost impossible to do anything in manhattan and not be on camera
at some point. that's a real saving grace. there's high hope that the fdny will be able to have imagery of whatever happened here in its early stages. to underscore what jonathan dienst just reported, i was just reminded by a senior commander, a few years ago, there was a collection of chemicals that were illegally disposed of by a construction crew. at first people thought it was terrorism, but combined together they made a very loud explosion. now, obviously we're all hoping that it was of that nature and nothing else. the only other piece of good news most of the injuries that have been treated tonight are known in the parlance of new
york ems as green tag, the best kind of injury to have. that would indicate not a shrapnel wound. that would indicate very good news that there are all kinds of ieds in the world. you have to remember all three words. improvised explosive and device. that does rule out a lot of things, but green tag injuries, injuries from concussion, injuries from broken glass that we have already seen pictures of on social media tonight, that's far away different from the awful injuries we have seen from pipe bombs and other devices that have been planted. as malcolm pointed out, we started our day. the last thing folks on the
jersey shore were expecting was an ied in a trash can in seaside. this is all happening in the new york metropolitan area. the streets of new york city are even more packed right now because the number seven subway line -- the 7th avenue subway line has been stopped. a lot going on. i've been listening to manhattan borough-wide radio. we heard an apparatus was moved a block away. it was because someone called 911 asking what happened. obviously, things are on edge in new york. we are all hoping for the best possible answer, which i guess would be some construction-related or civilian-related accidental explosion or materials in a dumpster. >> we expect to hear again in a matter of moments here, brian,
from officials to speak. it could be the mayor. it could be the new york police department. in the interim here, brian, talk about construction. if you were to give us the sense of the fabric of construction that happens in manhattan and just the sheer number of construction sites that exist on any day in the city, give us that sense of context. >> first of all, this visual we've been looking at all night richard, even back when none of us knew exactly what we were looking at, this dumpster, it looks like a lightweight garbage can. the writing visible bic 1323 is a new york city business integrity commission number given out to a known and
reputable waste removal company. that could be tied to a construction project. as richard engel pointed out, this is one of the more constantly changing areas of new york city. as rents go up, as buildings go up, as buildings get renovated, there's always construction going on in the chelsea district of new york city. it's conceivable. it's possible. blasting goes on. demolition goes on. chemicals are mixed. chemicals are disposed of. sometimes by people not with good motives on a friday afternoon when the whistle blows. we're hoping that's all this was. >> when you think of the stories you have covered over the years, this being one of those that we have heard before, how would you look at previous situations where we've had law enforcement react this way locally?
now in will be a federal component, something that is very common here in manhattan, very common in new york city, brian. >> yeah, i've been monitoring all the scanner traffic tonight, richard. people in emergency services, first responders, in new york city know this all too well. there is nothing close tonight on the radio to the confusion we had in the pre-9/11 era. now it is working so much better. you have a first rate fire dispatcher on tonight. very methodically going to the units headed to the scene. ditto police and the feds, and they're all working together. the city has kind of reached its model, its goal, for all these various branches who coexist every day on a peaceful coming together on a saturday night.
i might add a beautiful kind of late summer/early fall night that had a ton of people out on the streets and then suddenly this concussion in chelsea. >> it's 10:40 p.m. local time. we expect a news conference to start at any time. brian, the arc of events, the arc of the details, that comes to us so far, what's your thought in terms of what has happened at this moment? again, it's early. two hours and ten minutes in. >> everything has worked as far as i can tell so far -- meaning the injured have been treated. a huge response by nypd, ems, fdny, by the feds. and the injured have been treated. all neighboring buildings have been searched. negative results thus far. some of the first responders
were told to wear personal protection gear. that's just a caution. it's kind of a level one thing when you've had an explosion of any kind. that would be the same if we lost a steam main in the middle of the street. the police have cordoned off the area. again, they've done building to building searches, basements to the top floors. no secondaries have been found. no other devices of any kind. they've got the neighborhood, they think, under complete control. remember all the things we don't see. every new york city fire house that had a piece of apparatus responding tonight now has guests in their fire house as they are moved from different parts of the city, different boroughs, so no one is unprotected during this kind of emergency. again, if you hear wishful thinking in my voice, it is hoping this was something construction related, something civilian related and not a criminal act. >> everybody hoping for that,
brian. as you were speaking, on the left-hand side of our screen, which was focused in on these microphones, many of them, there was a gurney that was wheeled through yellow tape. it appeared somebody was on that being pushed through by fdny personnel. clearly the scene is still moving. this as law enforcement readies themselves to come to the microphone. talk about, if you can, brian, the way that the local and federal officials will now be working together and how seamless that may or may not be and what you're looking out for as we go forward because again there are still no solid answers as to what caused this explosion. >> well, that's right. jonathan dienst had it right. they will work outward in concentric rings. this becomes an investigation scene. this becomes a potential crime
scene. air samples will be taken. they already have. they'll be monitored all night just in case. a couple of shifts will be cancelled as they fan out. daylight will be their friend and video cameras will be their friend. i'm quite certain we're going to hear they're going from office to office, building to building, looking for all the cameras that you don't notice during the day under the eves, on street corners, on telephone poles, on street lamps to see what imagery they hold. the nypd has some incredible computer software. they have facial recognition. if you're in times square on a saturday night, if you're standing on the side of the street with a bag in your hand, if you drop that bag and move away, they will know about it. not in realtime, but via
software that looks for anomalies. they have similar software looking for license plates, for faces. people say we've given up a lot of liberties post-9/11 and we have, but the upside of that is we are likely to have some answers pretty quickly here tonight. >> 22 square miles, 1.5 million people on a quiet day. on a busy day 4 million people in these 22 square miles. this region of manhattan, the borough of manhattan, chelsea, describe what it is like and how it is different from the other parts of manhattan. >> well, richard engel had it right. neighborhoods kind of rise and fall in their popularity. gentrification can affect that. the economy can affect that, where the jobs are. chelsea is one of the hottest open all night neighborhoods in
new york city and has been for the last couple of years. vibrant, a ton of well-known businesses, a ton of local businesses. this is, by the way, a public affairs nypd officer you see standing at this smorgasbord of local media microphones that they have set up for this press conference in the middle of the street. i've been told the chiefs of both departments, police and fire, are expected there along with presumably the fbi, the feds, who are a part of this. and i guess we'll hear from this spokesperson when this will be, but richard, it's also nearby everything. a lot of police and fire protection. nearby a lot of police precincts. the feds are never far away. most of their presence is in lower manhattan, but not all. so if something like this had to happen in terms of quick response, in terms of potential
video, camera locations, all of that, chelsea may have some perverse advantages even though we're talking about a number of injured, around two dozen. >> brian williams, thank you so much for the context, for the detail, and of course the importance of the information that's been coming in so far just within the last two and a half hours or so. brian, thank you so much. i now want to go to some of the eyewitness sound. we've been able to hear from a couple of individuals that witnessed either the sound itself, the explosion, if you will, or what happened in the aftermath. and we have a mother and son who came to a camera. this is what they said. >> we live on 20th. we were in our showroom on 20th between 5th and 6th. oliver, why don't you tell her? because you and daddy really heard it. >> so we were --
>> working. >> my mom was working. then we heard this big boom. me and my dad just rushed to the window to see what was going on, but we couldn't see anything. it sounded like a million pianos dropped or a big thunderstorm. >> that's a good comparison. >> it was a little scary. i've lived here 30 years. you hear stuff every day. it was like wait a minute. what is that explosion? then everything got crazy. we just live here. we were like let's go outside. we don't want to sit in our apartment and watch the tv because what's really happening out there. you're very aware right now. >> did you feel vibrations at all? >> no, i felt -- the sound was so overwhelming. did you feel anything? >> no. >> no. no. we just heard it, but three
blocks south. >> so you were on 20th street. >> between 5th and 6th. >> now you're hearing it was in fact an explosion and people have been injured. >> it makes a lot of sense and it's scary. you're more aware because you don't know what it's going to be. we just want to be smart and see what's happening and do we need to get out or do we need to just be aware. >> again, another eyewitness account of what happened this evening. the 8:30 p.m. explosion that we understand is when it happened. it appears to be calm. not hurried by what happened. no doubt frightening her and her son. we're also hearing the atf is involved. i'm going to go to jim cavanaugh, a former atf agent. what are you taking away from that development?
>> the united states government's bomb investigators, fbi does that well mostly under the terrorism hat, but they work seamlessly with the nypd arson explosives unit, the fdny. they all know each other. they're friends. they work and train together. and they're going to do here is post-blast investigation. every atf agent is a bomb-trained post-blast special agent investigator. they're trained to interview people about bombings. they're trained to recover the minute memoremnants of bombs, t inside gears of watches, how to sift and find it with magnets, with special tools. they're experts at that, and they work with nypd arson explosives. they likewise are expert -- they share the training and the fbi as well. they'll work together at that dumpster and the blast area.
a lot of evidence will be contained there because the dumpster is a container. it shoots it out like a cannon. the noise you're hearing from these witnesses is the reverberation and this metal dumpster. it's going to sound like a cannon. these are high-rises that line the streets there, so you here this resonance of a blast. people can hear it blocks away. of course, it's not ripping buildings apart because it is not a very large bomb explosion or active explosive material, but it's probably contained in the dumpster. yet, you can see from the pictures how mangled the dumpster is. we would identify that quickly as scene of the blast and go right to that to determine what is the origin of this explosion. accidental, chemical, criminal? we're going to find out right away. they probably have an idea which way they're going, but there'll
be a lot more forensic work and interview work and camera work and intelligence work to do. >> now one thing that i'm watching here, jim, is the issue of the coordination, as brian williams was saying. this is something that is really day-to-day. jonathan dienst said there are 500 officials commonly working with other officials. is there a point where federal officials do take over this investigation as to what caused the explosion? >> well, you know, it's not really any kind of a takeover so much. it's really just teamwork. they're going to get there to the scene. they're going to work together. they're going to form their bomb investigation team. when we work these big cases, we work a jock, a joint operations command center. we all work together. the decisions are made by the command elements, the commanders
of all these departments and agencies, because everybody's involved. that's pretty seamless. that's not going to be a problem. they work together every day. the joint terrorism task force is composed of nypd, fbi, atf, homeland security agents, marshals, port authority police, state troopers. they're all involved in those task forces and know and work together, so that won't be a problem. the real issue here is there is a bomber loose in new jersey and new york tonight. we know that. we know there's a bomber loose. there's a bomber who made at least three or four pipe bombs. he made them with a very specific purpose to kill and injury people on the run. that is a fact that can't be disputed. it is important to remember. now this explosion is it criminal, is it accidental? that's the next piece of the puzzle. even if it turns out to be accidental, there's a bomber still loose in the metropolitan area, and that's of real
importance to everybody up there tonight. >> jim, stand by. i want to go to jose diaz balart. jose, what are you seeing and whoo are you hearing at the moment? >> richard, good evening. i've been here almost two hours now. let me just paint a picture of where we are. we are on the corner of 23rd and 5th avenue in lower manhattan. i'm going to ask you to just switch over and show the emblematic flat iron building which is between 5th and 23rd. the exposure to third on the corner of 6th and 23rd, one block down from that way. i arrived here almost two hours ago with four officials that closed this part of the street off. i was able to get through the other street on 22nd down to 6th
avenue, and i've got to tell you i just saw massive police presence almost immediately upon the explosion occurring. some of the folks i've talked to here say it was almost immediate the response that they heard and they saw. not only police, but also fire officials. i also saw about an hour and a half ago a group of fbi agents right around the perimeter area almost immediately. there are still helicopters over, flying the area. it was about an hour after the incident occurred. i have been speaking with some of the people that were outside. just as you have been reporting, richard, there have been what eyewitnesses call just a loud reverberation of an explosion. and as we were discussing, because of the height of the buildings, it is very possible that that reverberation is an echo of that sound just going
from one building to the other. 26 people injured taken to bellevue hospital. the situation right now as far as i understand it is that bomb squad officials are combing the area. brian williams was talking at that just a few minutes ago. brian once again perfectly correct on what procedure is being followed right now. behind us a block away, bomb officials are combing the entire area and not just the street, but the buildings. i was speaking to a young man here who was asked when -- he actually walked down from his apartment when he heard the explosion and was almost instantaneously asked to move away. he hasn't been allowed to go back in. the area around this explosion has been cordoned off. you can't get in. we have been closed off here on 5th and 23rd, but if you go down
to 22nd and the 21st at 6th avenue, that is closed off. 6th avenue, rapid response team and trucks coming through, both nypd and fire department. i have seen ambulances come in. right now officials are kind of meeting in an area right behind me towards 6th avenue. they have different areas cordoned off, but this was almost instantaneous, the response, to this incident that happened here in lower manhattan just a couple hours ago. >> jose diaz balart. stand by. thank you for that report. if you're just joining us, i want to get you up to date. on the left-hand side of your screen, we expect a news
briefing at any moment to give us the very latest information in terms of what is known by city officials. we expect new york city's mayor bill de blasio to come to the microphones. we also expect police commissioner james o'neal to come to the microphones you see there in front of us. ironically, unfortunately, whatever you'd like to call it, this is only the first full day for the police commissioner. this incident of an explosion that happened reportedly on 23rd between 6th and 7th in lower manhattan, this happening about 8:30 p.m. local time, so that's two and a half hours ago. they'll be coming to those microphones you see on the left-hand side, and that is when local as well as national press and all those microphones and the number of heads you can see in the picture indicative of all the interest and the questions that might come about. let me get you up to date in terms of what we know in terms of injuries. 26 is the latest number. that number has not changed in the last 30 minutes.
23 of them we understand to be minor injuries. that is the good part of the news. no fatalities from that explosion as of yet. the cause of the explosion, that is unknown. as you were hearing from jose diaz balart, it is still an active scene. this garbage dumpster on the left-hand side. brian williams learning that this code on the left-hand side could indicate that it is related to a business, and that could therefore mean potentially it is related to a construction site. we do not know the relationship of this particular dumpster on the left-hand side, whether it is, if you will, a commercial dumpster or a construction dumpster or any other sort of distinction that can be made, but clear