A 20-inch steam pipe exploded in Lower Manhattan July 19 morning, causing extensive damage to the street and positive asbestos tests that shut down the surrounding area that forced the evacuations of 49 buildings.
Twenty-eight of those buildings are in what officials called "the hot zone," and 500 people have been displaced from nearly 250 units in those buildings. No one was seriously injured.
Environmental tests confirmed the presence of asbestos after the rupture, which was expected given the age of the pipe, which was installed in 1932.
The line that exploded and blew a 15-foot crater in Fifth Avenue near 21st Street is part of a network of more than 100 miles of pipe that provides steam to 1,600 customers.
More details here.