2 Unaccounted for Following East Village Explosion, Fire: Officials

City officials say that two people are still unaccounted for following the explosion that sparked a massive fire and caused three buildings to collapse Thursday in the East Village.

The NYPD issued posters seeking information on the whereabouts of two men believed to have been inside a sushi restaurant on the ground floor of one of the collapsed buildings: Moises Lucon, 26, who worked at the restaurant, and Nicholas Figueroa, who had been there on a date.

The gas blast on Second Avenue sparked a seven-alarm fire that injured more than two dozen people, including six firefighters and an EMS responder. Four were critically hurt. 

Neal Figueroa said his brother was paying for his meal when the blast occurred, and that his date, who is in the hospital, remembers only stumbling outside before losing consciousness.

"I just want my brother to be safe, I want him to smile again, I want him to be home," he said.

His brother said he accessed a bank statement after he went missing that shows a debit card payment of $13.04 to the sushi restaurant.

The woman he was with was hospitalized, and had trouble recalling what she had been doing, so she wasn't able to tell authorities right away that Figueroa was missing, reports the New York Post.

Figueroa graduated from Buffalo State College in December with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a minor in intelligence analysis, spokesman Jerod Dahlgren said. He has been working at Bowlmor Chelsea Piers, a bowling alley, for the past few months as a front desk attendant and laser tag attendant, according to spokeswoman Leslie Norden, who said employees were deeply concerned for their hardworking colleague.

As of Saturday, no one else was believed to be missing in relation to the explosion. Emergency workers were removing rubble with heavy equipment and placing it in the street where it was examined by hand. Second Avenue was closed to traffic at the site.

Search dogs were seen patroling the wreckage of the buildings Friday morning.

Anyone concerned about a missing relative or friend is urged to call 311.

-- Lori Bordonaro contributed to this report

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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