Explosion Cuts Manhattan Internet Service

Major Verizon switches underground were not affected, the company says.

NEW YORK—An explosion just south of Grand Central Station interrupted Internet service for Manhattan customers here today.

In the hours following the incident, Verizon had already determined that major switches located underground had not been affected, and was preparing to inspect the cables underground. But it could not provide an estimate of whether or how many of its customers were affected. Mark Marchand, a spokesperson for the New York-based ISP, said the company was "still in the assessment phase."

Marchand explained that the company has underground facilities under major Manhattan arteries such as Lexington Avenue, where the Con Edison steam pipe burst.

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The explosion, which took place at about 5:49 PM, sent showers of mud, steam and debris hundreds of feet into the air, and carried a small private bus off the ground. The driver of a city bus told eWEEK that only moments before the explosion he had driven his No. 102 bus past the patch of pavement that was ripped into the sky.

"I got out of my bus and Im still shaking," he said. "It brings back bad memories." The driver had been in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. While officials have ruled out a terrorist incident, anxiety was palpable in the minutes and hours following the explosion.

Thousands of pedestrians pressed up and down the avenue as subway service was interrupted, cell phones pressed to their ears to reassure loved ones that they were okay. The street was further crowded by residents of apartments and area hotels evacuated by the fire department, and tensions were exacerbated by the constant shriek of sirens from emergency vehicles.

A policeman trying to cordon the area north of 38th street, three blocks south of where the explosion took place, told eWEEK he had no information about the incident. "I dont know. I just got here," he said.

eWEEK Staff Writer Scott Ferguson contributed to this report.

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