As investigators continue to sift through the debris of the devastating East Village explosion that leveled three buildings and killed two people, some signs of hope have emerged for at least a few displaced residents: three missing cats have been found and reunited with their owners, officials say.
Kathleen Blomberg, a resident at the heavily damaged 125 Second Ave., which is still under a full-vacate order, has been reunited with her two cats, Kitty Cordelia and Sebastian, said the ASPCA. The cats were found under Blomberg's bed, and it took about an hour to retrieve the very shy animals.
Another cat, Laszlo, was found inside a closet on the fourth floor of the building and returned to its owner, Yvonne Collery. Collery is still missing her second cat, Lulu.
The ASPCA, FDNY and NYPD are still working to locate other missing animals at the explosion site. Animal shelter Bidawee has compiled a list of missing animals on its Facebook page.
Meanwhile, authorities are still investigating the possibility that the explosion may have been caused by an attempt to hide illegal gas siphoning, as first reported by NBC 4 New York.
Con Edison said Wednesday authorities are looking into the possibility that someone had dismantled or hidden a siphoning apparatus from the gas line in a Second Avenue building before utility workers arrived for an inspection, then attempted to restore it in the moments before the blast.
Nicholas Figueroa, a 23-year-old bowling alley worker on a date in the ground-floor sushi restaurant that exploded, and Moises Lucon, a 26-year-old busboy there, were killed in the blast, which injured more than two dozen people.
Hundreds of people were forced out of their homes by the explosion; one couple told NBC 4 New York they returned from vacation to find they had lost everything, including their cat. De Blasio said most displaced residents had moved back in by Monday. Less than 50 units remained under vacate order, he said.
The city's Department of Environmental Protection has taken nearly 200 air samples and found no asbestos. Representatives from the Department of Health were going door-to-door with informational packets for people who may need help coping with the ramifications of the explosion.