The victims were found hours apart on Sunday afternoon. Shortly after, Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro confirmed that every missing person was found. The explosion at Sushi Park – a restaurant at 2nd Avenue and 7th Street – occurred Thursday, injuring twelve people, decimating three separate buildings, and engulfing most of the area with smoke, just one year after the collapse of a building in East Harlem.
Figueroa, 23, was on a lunch date with a co-worker at the restaurant during the explosion. Yac, 27, was a busboy who was planning to visit his girlfriend in his native county of Guatemala. The families of the men visited the rubble to pray for them days before their bodies were discovered.
Neal Figueroa clambered partway up a police barrier, kissed a white rose he held and tossed it toward the rubble. “Nicholas, come home,” he shouted to his missing brother, 23-year-old Nicholas Figueroa. “We’re here for you! Don’t give up!”
Yac had lived in New York for seven years after moving to find a job and a better life. His cousin Pablo Yac says he loved New York and even had posters of the Empire State Building and The New Yorker covers in his home in Queens.
The fire also displaced over one hundred people. The Red Cross reported that 125 adults and five children registered for their services. GoFundMe pages were also created for three individuals and have accumulated a total of $40,000.
Today, investigators are looking into what caused the explosion. Sushi Park owner Hyeonil Kim told reporters the building experienced gas troubles since inspection in August. He believed his gas was tampered with to provide residents of newly rented areas in the building with illegal services.
Landlord Maria Hrynenko denied the tampering, but never explained how other tenants were getting gas. Mayor de Blasio announced in a press conference that there was a possibility Kim’s suspicions might have been true.
Police plan to continue the investigation.
SOURCE: NY Times | VIDEO CREDIT: News Inc.