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Police Begin to Let Residents Retrieve Missing Property After East Harlem Explosion

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TWC News: Police Begin to Let Residents Retrieve Missing Property After East Harlem Explosion
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Residents who are missing property following the East Harlem explosion are being given an opportunity to get it back.

Police and the Department of Homeless Services have started letting people behind the barricades to retrieve their belongings.

A number of agencies have made themselves available to help residents of East Harlem.

A Service Center has been set up at La Marqueta near 115th Street and Park Avenue, where the Red Cross, the Department of Education and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development are offering support to the displaced.

Con Edison is also helping residents with arrangements to shut down or resume electric and gas utilities as necessary.

Investigators at the scene of the East Harlem explosion hoped Sunday to be able to begin looking into what caused it.

Authorities said Sunday morning that they were waiting for the basement to become accessible.

That's where the gas meters and pipes are located.

One of the first things Con Edison and the National Transportation Safety Board will do is pressure test the gas lines.

Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said that crews are thoroughly searching the rubble, despite long days and difficult conditions.

"We are in the process of removing the debris from the rear of the building, the basement, and we're going to do a quick search down there and try to get as quickly as possible that cleaned up," he said.

"It's been brutal, you know. Everybody's covered up. You don't even know who's who," said Lee Brown III, a construction worker. "The conditions are as bad as when I was working at Ground Zero."

Investigators are asking anyone who was in the area and may have seen anything to e-mail them at witness@ntsb.gov.

Friends and family of the victims will be gathering to remember them in the coming days.

A funeral for Andreas Panagopoulos was scheduled to be held Sunday evening at Joseph Farenga and Sons Funeral Home in Astoria.

A viewing for George Amadeo is scheduled for Monday at the Ortiz Funeral Home on 116th Street.

His funeral will be held in the Bronx, and he will be buried at St. Raymond's Cemetery on Wednesday.

The mother of one of the people who died in the blast is being treated at Mount Sinai Hospital for serious injuries she suffered in the explosion.

Family friend Mickele Macon says that because of her delicate condition, the mother has not been told about 44-year-old Griselde Camacho's death.

"She's in ICU right now," Macon said. "From when I saw her yesterday, she's still coherent, like, she just got coherent, but she's still in pain. Lot of bruises, lot of broken bones, injuries."

Cardinal Timothy Dolan asked Catholics Sunday to pray for the victims of the explosion.

In a mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dolan focused his homily on a Bible passage about suffering.

He offered a blessing for the victims and families affected by the blast.

"We ask God's blessing now as we come to the conclusion of Sunday mass," he said. "We ask it upon those victims, our neighbors, of the terrible blast in Harlem earlier this week."

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