Photo By AP Wideworld

National Transportation Safety Board investigators confirmed March 18 that a natural-gas pipeline leak triggered a deadly explosion that leveled two five-story buildings in East Harlem March 12. The agency, which is heading up the probe, also said it detected unusual concentrations of gas in the soil around the site, according to media reports.

NTSB has named New York City utility Con Edison as a party to the investigation. The utility, which referred calls on the matter to NTSB, says on its website that it last surveyed the blast area on Feb. 28 and found no leaks. It also says it is working with city officials and others to assist victims of the tragedy.

The blast, which killed eight people and injured more than 60, came the day after the Center for an Urban Future, a Manhattan-based think tank, released a comprehensive report on New York City's aging infrastructure. The group estimates it would cost $47 billion during the next four to five years to bringthe city's infrastructure to a state of good repair. The report is online at