Reports Of Explosion In New York City

Dec 11, 2017
Originally published on December 11, 2017 12:11 pm
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now here's a developing story we're following this morning in New York City. Television images show many flashing police lights and ambulance lights on the streets at 8th Avenue and 42nd Street. That's a corner in Midtown Manhattan, the location of the immense Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, which is the scene of a reported explosion this morning. NPR's Joel Rose covers New York City. He's on the line. Hi, Joel.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: It's so early, but what have you learned?

ROSE: Well, yeah, as you say, we don't have a lot of solid information yet. But I'll tell you what we do know. The New York Police Department is responding to reports of an explosion. This is according to a tweet from the NYPD just about 20, 30 minutes ago - reports of an explosion of unknown origin at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan. The A, C and E lines of the subway are being evacuated, according to the NYPD. And they caution that this information is preliminary. And I - you know, I'm sure we'll be learning much more this morning.

INSKEEP: OK. So in terms of the timing, the Police Department announced this about a half an hour ago, so sometime a little before that is when this would have happened. We're hearing about subway lines evacuated and other things. Can we talk about the geography of that part of Midtown Manhattan, Joel? The bus terminal is there. How big is it? And what else is nearby?

ROSE: Yeah, well, it's a huge bus terminal. It's a major point of entry into Manhattan for travelers from, you know, New Jersey and, you know, points west. So it's - you know, hundreds of thousands of people are moving through there at rush hour twice a day. You know, it's one of the busiest spots in Manhattan. And it's above a major subway stop. The Times Square stop is a connector for, you know, most of the main subway lines that use - that go through Manhattan. And we understand that the A, C and E lines have been evacuated. I'm also seeing reports that the other subway lines are being diverted around the Times Square station. So, you know, it's one of the major transportation hubs in New York City. And, you know, it's chaos on a good day - right...

INSKEEP: Yeah.

ROSE: ...So I can only imagine what this means.

INSKEEP: And I'm just thinking about other landmarks, other key places that are right near there. The New York Times headquarters, I think, is right across the street. And, of course, Times Square itself...

ROSE: Right across 8th Avenue.

INSKEEP: Yeah.

ROSE: That's exactly right. I mean, and you're just a little bit south of Times Square, which is - you know, everybody has seen images of that, right? I mean, it's one of the major tourist attractions in New York City. It's, you know, the heart of the west side of Midtown. Yeah. So it's one of the busiest corridors in New York City.

INSKEEP: Can you give me an idea of the level of tension in New York, Joel? Because this is a city that has been targeted before, on 9/11 and a few times since 9/11. But when I've been in New York in the last several months or years, I don't know that I noticed any particular security precautions, anything all that visible.

ROSE: Well, you know, you see a heavier police presence at places like the Port Authority, Penn Station, Grand Central, you know, places that might be soft targets for some kind of attack - and, certainly, in Times Square. You know, just walking through, I see NYPD officers, you know, with long guns and, you know - so it's a - it's not something that pops out at you, maybe, unless you're looking for it. But certainly, there is - you know, you see the NYPD at all sorts of potential targets in the city. You know, there was a terror attack just a few weeks ago, really, on the Lower West Side. A man drove a pickup truck down a bike lane near the West Side Highway in what prosecutors allege was an act of terror. And, you know, that's - I don't want to say fresh in everyone's mind because I think, you know, people do - New Yorkers do go on with their lives and have been since that attack...

INSKEEP: And now we have another accident, which we should just repeat. There's been an explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. According to police, it happened within the last hour or so. We'll bring you more as we learn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.