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Explosion in Chelsea Neighborhood in Manhattan; Authorities Confirm Multiple Injuries. Aired 9:50-11p ET

Aired September 17, 2016 - 21:50   ET


[21:51:35] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I need to get some breaking news right now. And this is out of New York City. There's been an explosion that has taken place in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan here in New York. Happened just a couple of miles from here, from where I sit here at the Time Warner Center in New York City.

Several ambulances, fire trucks at the scene now. Authorities say that at least two people are injured. Other officials say there are multiple injuries. And as of right now the cause of that blast is unknown.

Again, there have been -- there's been an explosion in New York City. Multiple injuries. Again, that is according to dispatch and it has been confirmed. Authorities are confirming that.

I want to get to CNN's Jean Casarez also live on the phone with us right now. Jean, what are you seeing?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, I am seeing many, many ambulances. I'm in the Chelsea district of New York City. I'm seeing multiple fire trucks, hooks and ladder. But really multiple, for blocks and blocks. We're seeing ambulances and fire trucks. A lot of people are just watching.

But what we can confirm at this point, that there was an explosion. We do not know how large. But we can confirm multiple injuries at this point. It is believed that there was some type of a device in a trash can or in a dumpster. We don't know at this point how serious those injuries are. But I can tell you there are helicopters that are flying above us. We do know the counterterrorism unit is en route and on scene from the New York Police Department. But police are not allowing anyone anywhere near the scene because they just yelled out that it is still extremely dangerous here.

So what we're seeing is a controlled situation. People are calm. Law enforcement is calm. But obviously something that we're right in the midst of and they're working it very hard right now, Don.

LEMON: All right, Jean, I want you to stand by because I had several CNN personnel, producers and correspondents, on the scene. And I want to bring in now Shimon Prokupecz, who is a CNN crime and justice producer, in Washington, D.C. Has some information. What are you hearing, shimon? SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE PRODUCER: All right, so Don, I

think -- right now I think what's important for folks to know is that the NYPD, the FBI and other law enforcement officials don't exactly know what caused this explosion. Could it have been a device? Could it have been something else? We just don't know.

All we really know right now is that something exploded inside a dumpster. It was a dumpster on the corner of somewhere around 23rd Street and 6th Avenue. It's in the Chelsea area of Manhattan. And it exploded. It caused an explosion. And that explosion -- We don't know what caused that explosion.

People were injured. We have anywhere from 15 to 20. We're hearing different numbers. The initial injuries do not appear to be life- threatening, but that can change. Several folks have been taken to different hospitals. And I think right now, for the NYPD and the FBI, which is also on scene, it's really about figuring out what caused this explosion. But the bomb squad is there. They're looking. They're trying to find remnants of a bomb, if this was a bomb, but right now they just don't know what caused this explosion.

Obviously, this is a scary situation. A lot of fear here right now. Sort of in the heart of Manhattan. Lots of people out. So there is some concern. And earlier today, as you know, a similar incident occurred in New Jersey where a pipe bomb detonated outside of a race. There was a race for a charity event and a device exploded there.

[21:55:05] So everyone here is a little excited trying to figure out exactly what caused this. But we just don't know right now. We just don't know what caused this.

LEMON: All right, Shimon, I want you to stand by again. I want to update our viewers. If you're just tuning in we have some breaking news here on CNN that's out of New York City. There's been an explosion that has taken place. It's in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan here in New York City. That explosion, as you can see from the map there, 23rd Street and 6th, near 23rd Street and 6th Avenue. Between, we're hearing from people, between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue.

There are several ambulances, fire trucks, at the scene. Authorities say that at least two people are injured, at least. Other officials say there are multiple injuries. And as of right now the cause of that blast is unknown.

Get back now to CNN's Jean Casarez, who is on the ground. These are the live pictures now that we're getting from our affiliate New York 1. You can see their correspondent there on the scene. But as you can see, the Chelsea neighborhood this evening very busy. It is one of the busiest neighborhoods in the evening. Very close to the Greenwich Village neighborhood that many people know about. And just below really midtown proper.

But again, an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood. That number could be between 10 to possibly 20 people we're told as of right now. Again the cause of that blast sun known. Jean Casarez at the scene. What do you know? CASAREZ: Don, I want to tell you something that I've been watching.

A bomb-sniffing dog has been just several feet away from me. They are taking it from building to building to see if it reacts, if it hits, which is the terminology, on anything that they have been taking this dog.

And I have walked from 5th Avenue on 24th Street towards 6th and now to 7th. And they're long blocks, and every intersection there are a very large amount of ambulances and fire trucks. So it's not only on 23rd Street in the Chelsea area, but the ambulances and the fire trucks are also every block in between. So this is a very large diameter and radius that they are working on.

But just spotted a bomb-sniffing dog. So when we hear the bomb squad has moved in, that includes the canines. Don.

LEMON: OK, Jean, stand by. Get as much information for us as possible.

Again, you're looking at a map. This is New York City, Manhattan. It is West 23rd street and 6th Avenue that we're pointing out here specifically. I don't know if we have that New York 1 shot, our affiliate there, even if the reporter's in the scene. But let's get -- there we go. And hat's the scene there on 23rd Street. And you can see, if you know Manhattan, that's the Chelsea cinema. This is right at -- this is 8th Avenue. And if you see the Boston Market there, 8th Avenue. And right on the corner right there is the BBQ or whatever.

And so on a Saturday night, this would be a very busy time for that neighborhood. There has been -- this is the breaking news. An explosion has taken place in the neighborhood that you're looking at, the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan here in New York City just a couple blocks from the Time Warner Center where we are, about a mile or so from where I sit. Several ambulances and fire trucks are on the scene. And you can hear, as you heard from our Jean Casarez, the scene, as we see the emergency vehicles going by with flashing lights and the police tape there. As you can -- She said the crime scene spanned a couple of blocks, couple of avenues as well, between maybe as far over as 5th Avenue to 8th Avenue here in Manhattan.

We're also hearing that there are now multiple injuries. Just how many we don't know but there could be between 10 to possibly 20 people who have been injured here. And as of right now the cause of that blast we just don't know.

Authorities have been updated on this. The President of the United States just speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C. I would imagine the president has gotten -- has been briefed on this particular situation. We have also gotten word that the Republican candidate for the presidency Donald Trump has also been briefed as well.

And again -- of course officials from New York City have been on the scene and are sending in the information that we have for us. Errol Lewis, who works for, you know, Time Warner News and is associated with New York 1, joins me here on the set. And as you can see, the reporters are out on the scene.

We're getting this information coming in and I'm seeing it and getting much of it just as you are seeing it as well. This is a reporter from New York 1 that you're looking at. Going to leave him up. He's there doing his job. He's one of our affiliates and we'll keep an eye on the scene here. But again an explosion taking place in the Chelsea neighborhood, which is between, Errol -- which is between Greenwich Village and midtown proper.


LEMON: Starting after the 20s and going into the 30s where we have midtown. Very busy at times.

LOUIS: Very, very busy. Especially on Saturday night. Chelsea one of the hottest neighborhoods, actually.

[22:00:01] Comes in year after year as one of the places where everybody wants to be. Housing prices are rising and so forth. Very trendy area. I've been to that cinema that was in the shot many, many times there, 8th Avenue and 23rd Street.

This is a cultural center among other things. A lot of artists live there. There are a lots of galleries and places, museums, for people to patronize as well.

And so, this is a big, big deal. This isn't off in some remote neighborhood.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Let me jump in, Errol, because I want to get to "Daily Beast" senior editor Tim Teeman. He's on the scene.

Tim, what can you tell us?

TIM TEEMAN, DAILY BEAST SENIOR EDITOR ON THE SCENE (via telephone): Yes, I've never seen anything like it. I've lived here in Chelsea for 6 1/2 years. You can probably here the siren behind me. So, apologies.

Lots of ambulance now on the move. The ambulances -- for the last hour or so. But suddenly a lot of vehicular activity going toward the scene. I heard the bang from my apartment and came out to see what was going on. Just around half past 8:00, I would say. And I managed to get down close to the sirens. I managed to get down to 25th and 6th. One lady being fetched away.

There were a lost rumors flying around in the crowd about what actually happened. But apparently some kind of explosion has happened -

LEMON: I want you to stand by. Mr. Teeman, if you will stand by. They're interviewing someone live now. A witness.

Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which was pretty amazing. REPORTER: What was going through your head when you heard --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That there's an explosion. And then you start -- I'm an architect. You get concerned. You hear about gas explosions. I've lived through 9/11. And there's a concern for humanity.

REPORTER: Tell me about the scene afterwards. Once you heard the explosion --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First responders coming. So, a lot of the blinking lights. You know, first responders, a lot of police. And then as they started -- fire trucks, emergency vehicles. Undercover emergency vehicles.

I spoke to one ambulance man, he says, I go, what's going on? He goes, I haven't heard anything yet. He goes, we're still investigating.

REPORTER: Was it chaotic? Was it calm? How would you describe --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty calm. There's a lot of people around the corner because there were still vehicles surprisingly, there was many vehicles still coming down 23rd Street that they had to clear out. And as they start -- and then I just saw the first police car block everybody on 23rd Street. And then get rid of all those cars.

So, after all the vehicles were gone, then you see people congregating on the corner.

REPORTER: Concerned at all for your safety knowing that this explosion just happened three blocks away from you and not a lot of information?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Initially, yes. You always have that concern because you don't know if it's three blocks away or if it's 100 feet away. And you just don't know. These days you just don't know.

REPORTER: Well, thank you for sharing your appreciate you describing the scene a little bit for us.

As you heard from Anthony here who happened to hear the explosion three blocks away from where it happened, he said that it sounded loud. He's an architect. He's familiar with some types of explosions. He says that for the most part, people were calm --

LEMON: OK. So, again, that is New York 1 on the scene, a CNN affiliate there, interviewing a witness who was at least very close and heard the explosion, it's interesting, on 23rd Street. I lived not far from there a couple years ago. So I know this neighborhood very well.

These are pictures that we are getting in now from this explosion. And I can't quite from my monitor make out exactly what that is. But again, it's debris from this explosion. It looks like it's part of a dumpster. Here's what we know right now. According to the New York Fire

Department, the department says 25 injuries in this explosion. None of them appears to be life-threatening. Again, 25 injuries in this explosion in New York City, in the Chelsea neighborhood at 23rd Street and 6th Avenue.

Injuries to civilians, it's confirmed at -- and this is the address they're giving. We're getting two different addresses, guys, if you can. It's 133. That's according to the Fire Department. I'm being told it's 135. But we're saying it's 133 Chelsea, 133 23rd Street in Chelsea. And that would be -- as I'm getting information here. The Association for the Blind is right in that area. If not 123, it's 125.

Again, none appears to be life-threatening. And that's according to a Fire Department tweet.

I'm also being told that gas has been ruled out. Officials are now trying to assess what caused this explosion. Gas has been ruled out, law enforcement officials tell CNN. Also they're trying to assess what caused the explosion. No secondary device has been located. That is according to our justice producer, Shimon Prokupecz.

[22:05:01] I want to get now to Corey Johnson, who's a New York city councilman.

Corey, you're on the scene. What can you tell us? What do you know?

COREY JOHNSON, NEW YORK CITY COUNCILMAN (via telephone): I'm at -- hey, Don. I'm at the corner at 23rd Street and 6th Avenue. Your initial reports are what I'm hearing as well. It happened outside the Association for the Blind.

For folks that aren't familiar with the neighborhood, 23rd Street is a major thoroughfare, as you said, that runs east to west, and it's very busy on a warm Saturday night in New York City. It's sandwiched between two subway lines, the Taft train and the F and M Lines at 23rd and 6th and the 1 train at 23rd and 7th.

There are helicopters overhead, and what we're hearing is they're not saying it's a bomb yet. There are no confirmed reports of that. But the NYPD bomb squad is here. The FBI is on the scene as well as Homeland Security investigators.


LEMON: Corey, if you can stand by --

JOHNSON: There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of law enforcement officials here on the scene.

LEMON: OK. Corey, just stand by. Just for a second, I don't want you to go anywhere. I just want to tell our viewers that this is new video that we are just getting in to CNN, which shows the chaos on that scene. And you can see broken glass and debris on 23rd Street in Manhattan. And as Corey said, that is a major thoroughfare that runs east to west in the city, in a very busy part of Manhattan.

Corey, this is again, as you said, the Association of the Blind, which is where you were. So, describe what you're seeing. There's new video -- it looks pretty chaotic. What's going on where you are? Did you see any of the injured?

JOHNSON: No. I didn't see any of the injured. What I'm seeing right now is I'm standing amongst law enforcement but of course away from the scene so as not to interfere. And the whole block is shut down. The NYPD bomb squad vehicle is down on the block.

There are two dozen fire trucks and ambulances that are here. And I believe the incoming police commissioner is on his way here. New York City's Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro I saw on the scene and I'm standing in front of the people wearing the FBI Joint Counterterrorism Task Force jackets.

So, there's a lot going on here. But we still don't know what it is. The initial reports say it was in a dumpster. I just read a piece online that said that a lot of windows were knocked out in the Association for the Blind building. So, that's what I'm seeing right now.

LEMON: OK, Corey, don't go anywhere because I want to update our viewers.

What you're looking at right now is the scene of an explosion in New York City, in Manhattan. And here is what we know: we're told that it happened just maybe 45 minutes to an hour ago as we were, you know, covering this -- the Congressional Black Caucus.

An explosion taking place in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, specifically at either 133 or 135 west 23rd street. We'll get more specific about that, which would be the Association for the Blind.

Just a couple of miles from here where we are, people heard the explosion from, you know, quite a distance there. As you can see, there are several ambulances on the scene, many emergency personnel on that scene.

We're now hearing there are injuries from the fire department, at least confirming now says 25 injured in this explosion. They're also saying, though, that none of these injuries appears to be life- threatening. They're saying that they're checking for a second device, nothing has been found yet. And also that they are ruling out gas, a gas explosion here. That is the only thing that they have ruled out.

There are now fears, though, that there could be other explosive devices. Again, they have not found one. There's also some new video we saw of some of the debris, which appeared to be at some point part of a dumpster there.

Again, the bomb squad is there. Bomb-sniffing dogs are being sent out to check on the neighborhood. And we're talking about a several-block area. Our Jean Casarez, who is there on the scene, said this was -- it spanned over a couple of blocks and avenues down there. One device we are told was detonated and it blew up in a dumpster, and I believe that is the debris that you're seeing there.

But again, we heard that there are fears that there could be another device, but so far, no one has been found.

Our Jean Casarez, our correspondent, is on the scene. New York City Councilman Corey Johnson joins us as well. And Shimon Prokupecz, who is our justice producer, is live for us as well.

I want to get to now, if everyone will stand by, Jean Casarez. I want to get back to you. You're first on the scene that we got to here live to CNN.

Jean, what are you seeing and what are you hearing? Any new information for us?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, I made my way to 23rd Street. I'm at 23rd and 8th Avenue. And 23rd is where this explosion occurred.

[22:10:02] I am just seeing a massive line of fire trucks and ambulances and New York police vehicles. Just I think you can see that on the screen now. And it stretches for blocks.

We're also seeing an immense amount of crowds of people because -- let me just set the stage for you. This is Saturday night. This is New York City. This is the Chelsea area -- an area where people go to dinner, where they walk and they hang out. And a Saturday night in New York is where you're going to find a lot of people, especially in this beautiful weather that New York City had today and also tonight.

People are just standing here. It's a calm scene. It's a very active scene, though. We do know at least 20 people injured, and that's being conservative at this point. But that is exactly what we're hearing, an explosive device. As you have said, I saw a bomb-sniffing dog myself just a minute ago. And it was not on 23rd. It was actually a block away they had that bomb-sniffing dog.

Also, at one point, the police yelled out to the people, "Stay back, this is a dangerous area." So the people are really being held behind these police lines, as you can see right behind me.

But the people are here. They want to know what happened. And the police are working very hard to try to figure out exactly what caused this, is there anything else that there should be a concern about? And obviously who is responsible?

So, there's multiple layers of this investigation going on right now. And the NYPD is working very hard -- Don.

LEMON: Jean, I want you to stand by again.

Big breaking news happening in New York City at this hour. I want to update our viewers here. There's been an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. As you can see, that's where our Jean Casarez is.

Also joining me now, this is usually her time to be on the air, is Poppy Harlow, who has made her way back to the studio. Poppy will help me with the coverage here. We'll continue covering it as long as possible.

Poppy, why don't we bring in now -- do we have chief -- we have Shimon Prokupecz, who is your justice producer who is joining us from Washington, D.C.

Shimon, you have new information?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE PRODUCER: They have ruled out gas. I think what they're trying to fire out if they can find anything that would indicate this was a bomb. So, they have the bomb- sniffing dogs there and that's part of what that they're doing. The bomb squad is also taking some samples of some of the material that sort of -- where the explosion occurred and they're checking to see what that is.

If you look at that dumpster photo, if you go back to that, you can see sort of there's kind of this blast and it's outward. So, something in that dumpster obviously exploded that caused that sort of blast which -- and remnants from that dumpster probably hit a lot of the people who were walking by. That could be what caused some of their injuries.

I will say like what you said earlier they have not found a secondary device. Clearly, you know, everyone's first thinking is this was a bomb, of course, a loud explosion occurs in Chelsea so everyone assumes there was something there, a device. But they haven't found anything to indicate this was actually a bomb. Could it have been a bomb? Could it have been something else?

One official I spoke to said maybe it was construction material. We just don't know yet. And, you know, all are just urging us to be a little cautious in what we're saying.

LEMON: All right. Shimon, if you'll stand by, because we're getting new information now.

Investigators believe, and we're being told now, investigators believe the preliminary cause of this explosion is an IED in or near a dumpster. They believe that the explosion was caused by an IED in or near the dumpster. That's a law enforcement source told CNN. The source stressed that this is preliminary and it is not conclusive, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right. And, Shimon, stay with us, because, Don, when I was on the air earlier today Shimon was reporting other breaking news for us, this pipe bomb that detonated in Seaside Park in New Jersey, around a marine run this morning.

And, Shimon, we were just talking about that being placed in a trash can. The FBI taking over that investigation. And then this happens today and Don is reporting, we have this now, that investigators believe the cause of this explosion was an IED in or near a dumpster -- obviously not relating the two events at all. But the fact that the two things happened on the same day, one in New Jersey, not that far from New York City.


PROKUPECZ: Well, yes. So, the thing -- are you talking about -- so what happened in New Jersey today certainly has everyone a little heighten -- on heightened alert.

HARLOW: Right.

PROKUPECZ: So that occurs earlier this morning.


PROKUPECZ: The FBI then spoke with the JTFF. They sort of get together and they were talking about what happened there. We know that the Joint Terrorism Task Force all over the country sort of have been on alert today and have all been briefed on what happened there.

LEMON: Shimon, I want you to stand by because we have to get to someone who is very urgent, who is on the phone now. Chris Duffy, he's a Connecticut EMT and a firefighter.

[22:15:01] He's on the scene.

Chris, what can you tell us about this situation happening in Chelsea?

CHRIS DUFFY, CONNECTICUT EMT ON SCENE (via telephone): Yes, hi, Don. I was on 7th walking toward 23rd and heard a very loud explosion. The explosion sound probably lasted for I don't know, three to five seconds. It was the loudest thing I ever heard.

I actually jumped. I didn't see the explosion. Initially I thought this can't be real, you know, fireworks or something. I didn't know what it was. And then saw a lot of people look over.

So, I walked up 23rd and there was a cloud of I guess it was spoke coming toward me and some people were running away. I walked away for a split second because I thought I don't have my gear or anything. But then I thought, well, geez, somebody could be hurt. So I went up there.

And immediately police were on the scene -- credit to them and FDNY. I started to get closer, and I couldn't get close enough to see where the explosion was. I did not smell gas. The cloud that I kind of walked through smelled like something that had burned, you know, a fire or smoke smell. And the police started yelling for us to all run away, it was not safe, get off the street.

I snapped that photo that I think had been out there. I don't think -- I said it was a dumpster. I don't think it was a dumpster. I think in hindsight it was just kind of a large trash bin. But that's what I saw.

LEMON: Do you think -- is that part of the trash bin that you're sing, we're looking at this photo that you that sent in?

DUFFY: Yes. So that -- it looks like it was -- if I can remember correctly, it was like a plastic kind of container, like a big trash bin. Not like a metal -- I didn't touch it, obviously. But it was not like a metal dumpster. I didn't know what to call it at the time but I think it was more of a plastic bin.


DUFFY: There was glass all over the street. There were kind of those plastic blockers they put on the street that were spread all around. I did see one man. He was being attended to by personnel on scene. He had some kind of head injury, an elderly gentleman, bleeding from the head.

LEMON: OK. Chris, stand by. Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

HARLOW: And, Chris, we're also just getting the first tweet from the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio. His Twitter account saying they're headed to the scene of the explosion at 23rd and 6th. More information to come.

So, one would expect that we would hear from the mayor in a press conference as soon as possible. But again, we just know he is headed there at this moment. As we wait for more information on that, I'm updating you on the breaking news of 25 injured on West 23rd street, the middle of a very busy Saturday night in Manhattan.

Let me bring in Tom Fuentes, former FBI assistant director who's joining us.

Tom, at this hour, no secondary device has been located. But what are the NYPD officers, the FDNY, obviously any FBI, ATF was on scene -- what are they doing to sweep the area, make sure that all the civilians and all the first responders are safe, make sure there aren't any secondary devices?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Poppy, sources tell me they do believe they have an improvised explosive device that caused this. They are sweeping the rest of the area to make sure there's no other devices that could pose a danger to the people. And now, they're just awaiting, you know, a large number of bomb experts that are going to be arriving from NYPD, the FBI, other agencies. And you have probably the best collection of explosives experts anywhere in the world based in New York City.

So, between the police department and the federal agencies, they should be able to get to the bottom of what type of device caused this explosion pretty soon.

HARLOW: And what would they be doing to make sure that there aren't secondary devices, a third, a fourth, a fifth located in the vicinity? What are they doing to sweep that? Because, obviously, this is New York City on a Saturday night. You've got tons and tons of people, that's right next to a major subway intersection right there as well? FUENTES: Well, you're right. And they can't sweep the whole city.

They can really try to do that neighborhood and bring in dogs and, you know, look in garbage dumpsters and other places where a device might be hidden. But there's only so much they can do.

And you're right, it could be -- you know, that's an enormous city. And they don't have enough dogs there to do the whole sweep of the whole city.

The other thing they are doing is that the explosive experts in New York will be comparing devices with what they found in New Jersey. And oftentimes, the explosive examiners and investigators immediately contact each other, send photos to each other of different pieces of debris to try to compare whether or not it was made by the same person.

HARLOW: Right. And just so our viewers know what tom is talking about, as you know, Don, earlier today investigators in Seaside Park, New Jersey, found a pipe bomb that exploded.

[22:20:03] It was placed in a trash can right around a military run, 5K run that was happening this morning. So, Tom Fuentes is saying they will compare the two, see if there's any possible connection. No reporting of a connection at this time.

Tom, stay with me.

Let's listen to an eyewitness and what they told New York 1, our affiliate what they saw.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was at 22nd and 7th Avenue sitting outside, having dinner. And I felt a loud explosion. I felt like a lightning bolt struck the building. It like shook the ground.

And everyone ran out of the restaurant in the street. The whole city was in the street. I've never seen so many cops drive the wrong way, fire trucks, undercover cops, cops driving the wrong way aggressively, like 20, 30 miles an hour, upstream, up 7th Avenue. Closed everything down.

People smelled smoke. First, they thought it was a building collapse. Then we heard it was an IED and everything else. Everyone was on Twitter.

But the whole neighborhood shut down. We were supposed to go see a movie tonight. That shut down. Everything shut down. Seems like a lot of chaos.

REPORTER: What was going through your mind? Were you concerned?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said there may be other bombs and to stay put. And the cops are telling people not to move anywhere. So, I live in the neighborhood. I was certainly was concerned. I assume there's been a ton of construction in this area.

Everything's been closed down. I assumed it was that. But it was pretty scary for sure.

REPORTER: You said you saw them going backwards against traffic, ambulances. Was it chaos or was it controlled?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was definitely controlled. But it was aggressive. The fire station on 19th Street and they were going up 7th Avenue and the ambulances and undercover cops. It look like FBI and others, and other people saw the FBI coming.

But it was definitely -- you know, no one was running out of the subways. I was afraid it was in the subway. That didn't happen.

But definitely, everyone was told to get out. And they keep moving the perimeter further and further. First it was 23rd, then 22nd. They moved people away from 22nd. The cops are on it. They're doing a great job.

REPORTER: Did you see anybody injured or running from the scene or anyone being put in an ambulance?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn't that close. But I saw on Twitter allegedly 25 people have been taken to the hospital. So --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's disconcerting. We're talking about this just being what happened and why Chelsea. You know, I walk down the street every day. I live over here and I work or there. And this is like my main thoroughfare. I'm either in an Uber, a cab or on foot on the street all the time.

So, this is my neighborhood. This isn't a tourist attraction. This is just the middle of the city. It does frighten me.

REPORTER: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're welcome.


HARLOW: There you have that eyewitness account, Don, from someone who said this is the route I take every single day. This is sort of the middle of Manhattan. And now, 25 people are injured from what authorities believe is an explosive device in or near that dumpster.

But you know, Don, if any city has just a huge amount of surveillance, it is New York City.

So, Tom Fuentes, who's with us still, talk to us about what investigators are doing right now in terms of the surveillance footage because there are cameras on every corner in New York City. What footage are they able to scan through right now that would lead them to who may have caused this? FUENTES: Well, they'll be looking at all of the footage of cameras

that are at street corners, on sidewalks, in front of businesses. Even though it's a residential area you might have private cameras on those apartments that also would show people walking around.

Now, that's going to be very walking down the sidewalk and tossing something into a garbage can may not attract attention, and being at night, if might be hard to have enough resolution and the photography to make out the faces of someone or get a good description of someone that may actually put something on the ground like that.

You know, during the Boston marathon bombing, there were thousands of videos that were examined but they had the advantage at least that it was broad daylight and in the downtown area, where it was easy to obtain that much camera footage. But this is nighttime. It might be a little more difficult to be able to identify somebody from pictures taken by those videos.

LEMON: We also don't know if it was a timed device at this point because it's very early on in the investigation. So, the person who put it there, person or persons who put it there, we don't know exactly when they would have put it there.

But Tom, we want to update the viewers and I have a question. Again, this is breaking news coming out of New York City. You're looking at these new images coming into CNN.

There's been an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, a very busy neighborhood on a Saturday night here, West 23rd Street and 6th Avenue. According to the New York City Fire Department, at least 25 people have been injured here. They do believe the injuries are non-life-threatening. They have ruled out a gas explosion. And at this point we believe it was an IED.

My question is to you, Tom, quickly is, what are the odds? This happening in New Jersey as Poppy was on the air covering it earlier. There was a device that exploded there. And now you have this device not far away in a very busy section of New York City.

FUENTES: Well, it is highly coincidental, Don. You're right.

[22:25:00] The only other thing, it could possibly be a copycat if someone already had explosive devices that they were ready to deploy and then heard about the attack in New Jersey earlier today and decided that they would also do that, that sounded like a good idea to them. So, it's possibly a copycat. It's possibly the same person, you know?

But they'll have a good idea when the experts examine those devices. They'll get a pretty good idea if they were made by the same person or from the same bomb-making school or instructions from the Internet.

LEMON: Yes. And again, IED, that's very early on, that's preliminary reports. Nothing has been confirmed or nothing is conclusive at this point as we look at these pictures, Poppy. HARLOW: Right, and as we look at these images, these coming to us

from "Reuters" of what happened tonight. Just a little oaf an hour ago. They're in the busy Chelsea neighborhood the intersection of 23rd Street and 6th Avenue. A major bus station is right there.

Let me bring back in our crime and justice producer Shimon Prokupecz who has been working his sources. Shimon, you have new reporting for us. What can you share?

PROKUPECZ: So, at this point, the FBI along with the NYPD are processing what they're calling -- they're calling it a crime scene because it's lack of anything else right now. They're going under the theory that something bad happened here. Initially there was some talk this wasn't showing anything nefarious but that seems to be changing, because I think officials just don't know, investigators just don't know right now. And so, they're going to process the crime scene, along with the FBI.

I know the FBI is heavily, heavily involved now. And I think that's partially because of what happened in New Jersey today. I think if New Jersey had not occurred, you know, maybe people here would sort of not assume this is anything bad right now. But I think because of New Jersey, things have chads a lot here today.

So, they're sort of processing the crime scene. They're going to look to see exactly what this is. I mean, everyone right now just from law enforcement is thinking this was some sort of an IED, something exploded so this would be an IED. What that is, no one has any clue right now, and I think they're just trying to figure out what happened.

And also, it's important to stress it doesn't appear any of the people have been seriously injured. Nonetheless, a really, really scary, you know, moment, really frightening for people who were walking up that block or down the block and sort of just were hit, heard this loud explosion and it looks like this dumpster just exploded. I mean, it exploded, striking so many of the people who were walking on the street.

HARLOW: And, Shimon, I was racking my brain trying to think when the last point in time was in New York City specifically when something like this was found that did not detonate.

PROKUPECZ: So, I think Times Square bombing -- the Times Square incident where they found the bombs in the car. That was a really serious incident. I mean there, have been smaller ones in New York City.

There was a couple -- several years ago someone threw an explosive device at a military post, kind of a military recruitment center in Times Square. So, we've had small incidents like that in New York City.

But again, nothing like this. If this turns out to be some so of an explosive device, it's going to be pretty significant. And it's going to be tremendous attention and it will definitely change some things in New York City because presumably since Times Square, you know, we really haven't had anything like this. And the NYPD obviously with their sort of counterterrorism units have done a pretty good job of keeping the city safe.

So, this would be something they're going to take very seriously. And you can -- I've been talking to the NYPD folks and they've all said they're out there, they've deployed units across the city to make sure there are no additional incidents. Certainly after this morning's incident in New Jersey, the NYPD redeployed units all over New York, at military recruitment sites and some other areas where potentially someone may target military-type folks.

So the thing in New Jersey this morning everyone is sort of under the theory that they were targeting the race because it had to do with the military. On 23rd Street in Chelsea on that street, I've been there several times. I know you probably have been there several times and Don has been there several times. There are no military kind of places there.

So, it would be interesting to know why someone would target that area. Was this just sort of an opportunity for someone to do this? We just don't know.

HARLOW: Shimon -- yes, go ahead, Don.

LEMON: It is a very busy neighborhood as well. It's also a neighborhood that is known as a gay enclave, as is the West Village, as is Hell's Kitchen, right?


LEMON: So, I'm not sure if that plays into it.

But I just want to -- Shimon, if you can stand by. Just give you the information that we do have here. Shimon mentioned he's been speaking to the NYPD. This will be the first real big event and real test for the brand new as of just two days ago Jimmy O'Neill, the new NYPD commissioner.

HARLOW: Right.

LEMON: Bill Bratton, who was the commissioner twice, just retired late last week.

[22:30:05] Again, this explosion happened in the Chelsea neighborhood on Saturday night. Injured at least 25 people, we're told, from the fire department. Gas has been ruled out as a cause of this explosion, according to a law enforcement source.

There is a preliminary belief by investigators that it could have been caused by some sort of device, but again near a dumpster. But we don't know what that is, because this is all preliminary information. Some people on social media have been saying that they heard an explosion.

And, Poppy, as you heard in the interview with New York 1, the gentleman said, it sounded like a lightning bolt, felt like a lightning bolt, his apartment.

HARLOW: Right. And we have heard from other eyewitnesses that they said, it was heard as far away as Hoboken. And to give our viewers a sense of perspective, Hoboken is directly across the entire river from where this is.

LEMON: And the PATH Train s near there that goes over to New Jersey --

HARLOW: Right at that intersection.

LEMON: There are several train lines as well.

I want to get -- I want to ask councilman, City Councilman Corey Johnson, who's on the phone now. Corey, we're also hearing the subways in the area have been shut down. Do you know anything about that? What do you know?

JOHNSON: Yes. The subways as you both said, the S and the M line at 23rd and 6th and the PATH Train, those have been shut down at 23rd and 6th. At 23rd and 7th is the 1 train. That has been shut down.

And I am being told that for Amtrak, there is no impact at Penn Station. Amtrak will rely on New Jersey transit service. So, things are still operating there. That's just about ten blocks north of where we are.

The most recent update I have in the last ten minutes is that the patient count is now 26, 23 patients with minor injuries. One patient with moderate injuries, and the condition of additional two patients is currently unknown. There are no reported fatalities at the time.

And what I'm be told is that the NYPD bomb squad, which is here at the scene, is going to be -- they are continuing the search for secondary devices. They haven't said it's a bomb yet. But as you've reported and as I've heard from constituents all night, I'm standing here the corner of 23rd Street and 6th Avenue, there was a massive -- massively loud explosion.

I started getting texts from constituents who live avenues away from here, blocks away from this area who said, did you just hear that explosion? So, clearly, it was something that was very, very loud. The mayor just arrived on the scene about five minutes ago. New police Commissioner James O'Neill is here, as well as Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. And there are hundreds of law enforcement officers here.

I'm in one of the cordoned off areas with law enforcement. There's well over 100 firefighters, maybe a couple hundred firefighters. The FBI is here and they've set up a command post at 23rd Street and 6th Avenue that they're operating from jointly with everyone meeting right now. So, that's the latest that I hear.

LEMON: Hey, Corey, just quickly, the information that we have, as I said, 25 injuries. You're getting information that we don't have. Can you go through that again? Are you getting that from official sources?

JOHNSON: Yes, I'm getting this from law enforcement sources. That the patient count is now 26.


JOHNSON: Twenty-three patients with minor injuries, one patient with moderate injuries, and two patients, the injuries are currently not being categorized. I'm told the patients have been -- a series of them have been taken to Bellevue Hospital, which is on the east side and that's where a lot of folks go as a level 1 trauma room. And that other patients, I'm told, have gone to other hospitals but no one has indicated where yet.

LEMON: OK. Go ahead, Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. And we've also learned in just the past few moments that the president, President Obama, has been briefed on the situation here in New York City. Again, the president just after he gave his remarks tonight at the black caucus dinner that Don of course was covering earlier was briefed after he left the stage. The president will be update, we're told on additional information as it becomes available, this coming to us from the White House.

I do want to also let you know that we have our first tweet from the NYPD counterterrorism chief, tweeting at this time 25 confirmed wounded, but none with life-threatening injuries. They are actively monitoring the situation. Again as we just heard from the councilman, he's hearing from his law enforcement sources, 26 are injured.

Also I want to reiterate -- Councilman, are you still with us?

JOHNSON: Yes, I am.

HARLOW: So, the -- and you said the F Train, M Train, PATH train to New Jersey and the 1 train are shut down. Is that what you're hearing?


LEMON: Councilman, before you talk about that, I just want to say that the PATH train hasn't been running all weekend because they've been doing repairs.

[22:35:07] They were running shuttle buses all weekend from the World Trade Center, PATH, 6th and 7th Avenues. So, that may not have affected this.

HARLOW: It's a very important point. It's a big step for them to shut down the subway in New York City. That is the way that almost everyone gets around and they rarely, rarely would do that.

So, can you just confirm for us again that you know definitively you that know those train lanes are shut? The F, the M, and the 1 train?

JOHNSON: That's what I'm being told. I'm standing here and all the -- I can see the different subway entrances and they're cordoned off. So, I -- maybe trains are still running past these stations. I don't have information on that.

LEMON: Rerouted.

JOHNSON: Just so you all know, a little after 8:30, I was walking down 23rd street approaching 8th Avenue and I didn't hear the explosion but I all of a sudden saw swarming emergency services and law enforcement vehicles and they got to the scene right away, closed the scene down.

What I'm also being told is -- I don't know if you have footage of this, but the building it happened in front of as you reported, Don, is the Association for the Blind. It's a 210-unit building, 14 stories. And it's for people who have different visual impairments that live here in Chelsea. It's located right next to a church.

And from where I'm standing they now have sort of light towers on 23rd Street down the block where it supposedly took place that's illuminating that area. This building is covered in scaffolding. And it's a building that I know well because it's been going through now a two-year renovation. So, there has been construction going on at this building for two years. They're doing a full renovation of the building.

So, it does make sense that there were a series of dumpsters that were outside on 23rd street on the north side of 23rd Street. You know, this block has restaurants, a Dunkin' Donuts. There's a Best Buy on the corner that I'm on right now.

So, this is a very, very heavily trafficked area. It's a warm Saturday night. And we're not part from Madison Square Park, from the Flatiron district. This is a very busy area. So it's not surprising something happened.

LEMON: Hey, Councilman let me ask you this. I've got two different things. I know the neighborhood very well. I lived on that very street, on 23rd Street but a little bit further down, between 10th and 11th. It's on the north side of the street as you said. But one report was 133 west 23rd. The other was 135.

Is it a combination of both? Do the buildings span those two addresses? Or do you know exactly what address it for this blind?

JOHNSON: I'm being told it's 135 West 23rd Street.

LEMON: OK. All right, councilman, we need to move on.

Go head, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, we want to get to Rachel Crane, our correspondent who's at Bellevue Hospital on the east side of Manhattan. That's where some of the injured were taken, again, at least 25 injured.

Rachel, what are you hearing from the hospital at this time in terms of the extent of the injuries, how many patients are getting? RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, we don't have that

information yet. We are here outside Of Bellevue Hospital of where there's quite the police presence. The strategic response officers are here outside right where the ambulances have been coming in.

Now, on our way we saw several ambulances. We spoke to several people who said they'd heard the explosion, that when they emerged from the subway, that people were running. But as we pointed out, right now we just know that some of those -- at least 25 victims have been transported here to Bellevue but we done know the extent of their injuries.

LEMON: OK. So, you're standing out, how -- have you seen any of the patients coming in? Yes or no?

CRANE: No, we have not seen the patients come directly to Bellevue.

LEMON: All right, Rachel.

CRANE: None of the ambulances were pulling in while we were here, Don.

LEMON: OK, Rachel, we'll get back to you. Make sure you stand by.

Again, Don lemon here with Poppy Harlow. Poppy is usually on the air this evening. Poppy of course diligently ran back here.

You were on your way down -- fairly close to the neighborhood.

HARLOW: Right. I was heading home to Brooklyn. But it's interesting because we went through Brooklyn, not through Manhattan because the traffic was so bad. Now we know why.

You're looking at some new video in to us tonight from Chelsea, from that intersection at 23rd and 6th Avenue after this explosion went off there. Around 8:45 p.m. tonight, you see the many, many emergency response vehicles. We're told by the councilman, Don, over 100 FDNY members there, many police officers, New York counterterrorism is there. The mayor is there on scene.

As we continue to discuss --

LEMON: Just real quickly, before we bring Errol in --

[22:40:00] HARLOW: Yes.

LEMON: -- I want to say -- we want to get information about the subway lines because as Poppy pointed out it is a very big deal if they shut the subways down.

HARLOW: I can't remember the last time the subways were shut down. Maybe Hurricane Sandy.

LEMON: For Sandy, and then 9/11 before that.

Yes, unless there's flooding or something, but usually they don't shut it down they'll try to reroute it. So, that's a very big deal.

There's a difference between a subway platform or an entrance or an exit being closed --

HARLOW: Which could make sense that they would close the subways next to their so people were just, now masses of people coming out of the train, because they were trying to do their emergency response --

LEMON: Not far from New York 1.

HARLOW: Right.

LEMON: As a matter of fact, the officers here, Chelsea market, correct?

LOUIS: We're in Chelsea market, as a matter of fact. Not far, a short walk --

LEMON: Errol Louis is here, by the way, New York 1 and Time Warner --

LOUIS: From the scene there.

And my colleagues there are doing what we do, which is they're taking phone calls from viewers, sort of getting a sense of what's going on. I think they were one of the first on the scene just about ten blocks away.

And it's -- look, it's the kind of thing that when New Yorkers hear this kind of thing, some of the calls, it might seem humorous to non- New Yorkers, but as New Yorkers we would understand this. People would call in and say, yes, I heard the explosion and I went out to the deli. Or hey, it's a dumpster fire, you see these around the city all the time. It's not that big of a deal.

So, New Yorkers can be a little blase just because the city is so busy and so noisy. For something like this to happen in Chelsea, though, Chelsea has not been one of the areas where you expect to hear this kind of thing. We know that further downtown, the World Trade Center site has been a terrorist target for a long, long time.

We know midtown things happen because everybody's trying to get into Times Square, not just New Year's Eve, but lots of other times of the year as well. It's little unusual for what is truly a residential neighborhood. It's -- you know, we know about it as kind of an arts district and we know about it as a place where lots of things go on, but there are a lot of brownstone there's. There are a lot people who live there.

HARLOW: You're looking and I believe, Marty, you said live pictures, right? You're looking at live images now of 23rd and 6th Avenue where you still have many, many emergency responders. But you also, Don, have people, New Yorkers going about their evening. Traffic is flowing.

And this just speaks to, you know, New York and the fact that this is a busy Saturday night. They've cordoned off some areas, but not all there at that intersection. We have learned that the NYPD, according to our Shimon Prokupecz, has increased security across New York City as a precaution. That's according to a law enforcement source, increasing security across New York.

Let's bring Shimon in again.

LEMON: Shimon, NYPD counterterrorism unit is also monitoring the situation in Chelsea as well.

HARLOW: Right. So, Shimon, what more do you know in terms of the heightened security across the city right now?

PROKUPECZ: Right. So, as a precaution, because law enforcement does not know what happened here, specifically yet. And it's out of just abundance of caution, they decided they're going to redeploy some of their counterterrorism units to sort of sensitive sites, areas around Manhattan that are more populated, Times Square, other tourist locations, just as a precaution. There's nothing to indicate that there's something else about to happen. And there's really nothing to indicate really right now, you know, anything here, that what exploded here was a bomb.

I just want to tell you one other thing that investigators are telling me, is that they're looking at possibly a construction toolbox which was near the site of this dumpster which may have caused this explosion. They don't exactly know if that's what caused it but they're looking at that now. If I could just sort of read something.

There was a large construction site toolbox in front of this location. So, they're looking at that now to see if maybe that caused the explosion. So, again, they really still don't know. They're going through everything, trying to figure out what happened here, what caused the explosion and so, they're taking everything into consideration as they process the scene to see if they can find any remnants of a bomb or something else that may have caused this explosion.

LEMON: The only thing, Errol, you know, if we -- stand by, Shimon. The only thing, nothing as you said, nothing stands out about this neighborhood except for that it is sort of an arts and cultural district, also was known as a gay enclave. That has been sort of gentrified now.

It would be interesting -- we don't know what the cause is. To look at factors as to why someone, if this is indeed so, would specifically pick out this specific neighborhood in Manhattan.

LOUIS: Well, it is striking. And there's no getting around it. If you wanted to look for an LGBT neighborhood, Chelsea would rank very high. Folks think of Greenwich Village but --

LEMON: It's Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen. Yes.

LOUIS: Yes, it's Chelsea. You know, obviously, we're not going to jump to conclusions. We don't know anything about it or who might be behind or certainly any motive. But it's got to be a source of concern for residents in that community, especially after what we've seen in some other cities around the world, after Orlando, after Paris.

[22:45:06] HARLOW: And I think it's important to note. I mean, this is a big week in New York City. This is the beginning of the U.N. General Assembly, which kicks off this week, which means world leaders from across the globe all descend on New York City for this week, which is filled, filled with security.

LEMON: A new police commissioner --

HARLOW: Two days in, right? Two days.

You're looking at a podium there where the press is gathered right near the scene of this. Because there will be a press conference any moment. We'll bring it to you live when it happens. We know the Mayor de Blasio is already on site. Assume Errol Louis, he will be checking in with the head of the FDNY, the head of the NYPD first, right? And talking to them, getting a full picture of what we're looking at before he will brief reporters.

LOUIS: Oh, absolutely. In fact, of course, the mayor's personal bodyguard, his detail is NYPD. And buzzers I'm sure were going off and they will completely brief him. And he will tell us not rumor, not hype, not speculation. He'll tell us what he knows and what he doesn't know.

He, the mayor, and the NYPD, have been through this many, many times in many, many situations. As was mentioned, this is the very first day on the job for the new police commissioner.


LEMON: It's his first day, yes, because Friday was the last day for Commissioner Bratton. We're told that obviously the press conference will be held by the --


LEMON: -- New York police department. And I'm wondering if the new commissioner will probably lead that press conference. Again, as Errol just said, it's his first day on the job, and now, he's having to deal with this.

Also, we should say as we wait for this press conference as you were on the air this evening, we talked about this a little earlier, the explosion at the Jersey shore and now this. You know, coincidence?

HARLOW: Right.

LEMON: I'm not sure. We posed that question to Tom Fuentes. And I think we should pose to him once again.

Tom, are you there? These two things happening on the same day. What should we make of that? FUENTES: Well, until we find out more about the devices and other

parts of the investigation, it is pretty early to speculate on that. It could be a coincidence. It could be the same person. It could be a copycat.

So, all of these things are possible. There are a lot of people out making bombs or in possession of explosive devices all the time. This is not a rare event, unfortunately. It's just a question of when they decide to put one out and explode it.

And so, it could be that somebody hearing about the device in New Jersey earlier today decided ok, my turn and they may have done that. Or they'll find out when the explosive experts compare their notes tonight into tomorrow that if the wiring's the same and it looks like the same person put it together, then that will change the aspect of the investigation into being a wider conspiracy.

HARLOW: And, Tom, what we do know about the device in New Jersey, in Seaside Park, New Jersey, is that it was actually three pipe box placed in a trash can on a timer.

LEMON: And this was place at or near.

HARLOW: Right.


HARLOW: If it is indeed a bomb.

LEMON: Right, right.

HARLOW: We don't know the New York City one. But in New Jersey it was a pipe bomb. Three of them. And one detonated.

LEMON: What were you saying, tom?

FUENTES: I said my sources are telling me that the device tonight at New York City is an IED.


LEMON: Those are the preliminary --

HARLOW: It's all just moving very quickly and our Shimon Prokupecz reporting they did find a big toolbox right next to it. Construction toolbox. So, they're trying to decipher what it could have been. Let's go to someone else who's on the scene.

"Daily Beast" senior editor Tim Teeman.

And, Tim, as we await this NYPD press conference, what are you seeing, what are you hearing?

TIM TEEMAN, DAILY BEAST: Absolutely, I live in the area. I heard a very loud bang in my apartment after half past 8:00. I came out to see what was going on. Go down to 23rd and Sixth, which is where the center of the policy activity, an alleged activity is currently. I saw a lady being stretchered away.

I heard people in the crowd saying other people have been injured and stretchered away. And certainly, now, there as was a period of silence among the crowd. We were being pushed back more. To 23rd and 6th, we can see police and emergency vehicles ranging along multiple blocks. So, certainly, the community I would say is very muted and shocked. But something -- we don't know what exactly happened. We'll know when the police conference happens shortly at 23rd and 6th. And people are very muted and very shocked at what possibly has happened here this evening.

LEMON: OK. Stand by.

And I want to update our viewers here. This is Don Lemon here with Poppy Harlow. Poppy and I are covering the breaking news that's happening here in Manhattan.

As you can see on the bottom of your screen, according to the New York City Police Department, 25 people have been injured in explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. It happened about 8:30 or so this evening as the president and secretary of state -- former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were at an event, Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C. and we were on the air live as this was happening.

[22:50:10] We're getting reports from a councilman who is on the scene, Councilman Corey Johnson who's going to join us now. He's saying, according to his sources, there are 26 people who are injured.

Again, ours, what we have officially here at CNN is 25 -- 23 Corey said minor injuries. One he said it was a moderate injury. And then two injuries that are unknown. But all of them at this point which is good news that they're not life-threatening injuries, Corey.


JOHNSON: Yes, that's what -- that's what I'm being told. I mean, the report that we got was 23 minor, one moderate. I don't know what one moderate means but it doesn't seem like it's life-threatening. And then they were saying there are two that were unknown. But what everyone's saying here is that they're saying it wasn't -- none of the injuries seemed to be super serious, thank God.

LEMON: And so, again, this happened about 8:30. Corey, you said you were near the area. This is your district, right?

JOHNSON: Yes, this is my district. I represent, Chelsea. I was on 23rd Street and 9th Avenue leaving dinner with a friend, walking toward 8th avenue just after this happened maybe three or four minutes after it happen. Then I saw a series of fire trucks, undercover police vehicles, marked police vehicles all rushing to the scene, ambulances.

I came over to 23rd and 7th, right when they were sort of blockading 7th Avenue. And it was sort of just after it happened and they were still clearing people from the block. They then blocked off 7th Avenue, blocked off 23rd Street. And they started making a larger perimeter on 7th Avenue, on 6th Avenue. So, I've been here for the last couple of hours.

LEMON: How far are you from this press conference, Corey? We're looking at it on the left hand side of our screen. Again, we're waiting --

HARLOW: I believe it's 23rd and 5th Avenue.

LEMON: And you're at 23rd and 6th, right, Corey?

JOHNSON: I'm at 23rd and 6th. I'm with a couple of other elected officials. Gale Brewer, the borough president, and Brad Hoylman, state senator. And we're waiting for the mayor, who is being briefed right now to come out and then he's with the police commissioner and then I think we're going to go with the press conference with him. So, I'm standing outside of the building at 23rd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues waiting for that to happen.

HARLOW: OK. Stand by with us, Congressman. Thank you so much.

I do want to let our viewers know that we have learned the president, President Obama, has briefed on the situation, on the explosion in New York City, according to the White House. He will be updated as more information is available.

We've also learned just moments ago that Hillary Clinton, Secretary Hillary Clinton told about this explosion shortly after she left the stage at the Congressional Black Caucus dinner in Washington, D.C. tonight. She was briefed. Per an aide, she was told about the New York explosion shortly after those remarks tonight. And we're also told that the secretary instructed her staff to provide updates as the situation develops.

Again just updating you on our breaking news that Don Lemon and I are here covering for you tonight. An explosion around 8:40 p.m. tonight in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan at 23rd Street and 6th Avenue. A very busy end-of-summer Saturday night with people out and about. Emergency response vehicles coming in droves, more than hundred fighters we're told responding.

Again, what caused this, it is unclear at this hour. We know that there was an explosion, gas has been ruled out, preliminary reports of an IED, but as our Shimon Prokupecz is reporting, it could have been something else and we're waiting for the -- yes, we don't know.

LEMON: We'll get at this press conference.

HARLOW: We're waiting for the mayor and the head of the NYPD, James O'Neill, on his first day on the job.

LEMON: On his first day on the day, which is interesting.

Yes, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, of course, on the scene, as you heard Corey said. The city officials we're being briefed. He, along with the mayor, the Manhattan borough president, and also the mayor and I would image other officials being briefed and there are going to step up to those microphones in just moments.

I think it's important to point out too that this is, you know, a situation that they no doubt take seriously, Poppy, the NYPD has increased security all across New York City --

HARLOW: Right.

LEMON: -- as a precaution. And when you say New York City, that's not just -- it does not mean the borough of Manhattan. That means all other five boroughs of Manhattan. And also, the NYPD counterterrorism unit monitoring the situation in Chelsea.

The official count that we have here at CNN, 25 injured, does not appear to be life threatening, although we're getting slightly different numbers, not much, maybe one more injury, from Corey Johnson who is a New York City councilman, as we await this press conference to happen on 23rd Street in Chelsea.

[22:55:03] HARLOW: I want to bring Errol Louis back in, someone who covers New York City, not only politics, but New York City in general, as part of New York 1, which, by the way, your studio is located not very far from where this occurred in Chelsea.

One thing I think is interesting, and, Mariette, I don't know if we have those live pictures that we can bring up on the other side of the screen as we await the press conferences. But when we do bring up those live pictures, you know -- there you go, people are going about their business, in New York.

You've got some emergency response vehicles, a lot of them there. But people are crossing the street, you see some with their children, as far as we know, the subways are still up and running. Some of these --

LEMON: That's 23rd and 8th right now.


HARLOW: Right, right.

LEMON: This is the New York Sports Club there on the corner.

HARLOW: That's about two avenues away for our viewers. That's equivalent to about five blocks or so away.


HARLOW: But this is New York. They do not shut down big chunk of New York, even after something like this.

LOUIS: The city never sleeps. I mean, the subways are not shut down, it takes a couple of work and several hours to shut down the subway. That's very unusual, but it's one of those unique things about New York.

There are many people who work the night shift. A lot of those cars, those people you see walking, they're not hanging out, they're on their way to work.


LOUIS: Somebody's got to make the donuts for the brunch tomorrow in all the restaurants tomorrow.

So, there's a lot that always goes on, and, you know, the fact that we have streets that are in a grid pattern, means that as happened here, if you section off the area that you want, like this section of 23rd Street, there's really, on some level, no particular reason to inconvenience everybody else. The people who live on that block are going to have a hard time getting to where they want to go, the people who work on that block.

But everybody else will in fact be able to get around. And it's considered one of the things that the NYPD does well in order to keep everybody calm, is to not suddenly inconvenience tens of thousands of people. That's when it feels like an emergency, if they're separated from their medicine, from their pets, from their kids, that sort of thing.

LEMON: As we say, you know, people will say this is a residential neighborhood, this is a business district, but in New York City I think invented mixed use neighborhoods because you may live above a bodega or above a restaurant or a dry-cleaner could be there. So, this is mixed use area. Everything happens in this area.

You saw the Chelsea Cinema that you see there. There's a New York Sports Club that's on the corner, which is a gym there. There's a BBQ, which is right on the corner. And, then, across from that, there is 24-hour deli that's on the corner of 8th and 23rd. And you find these sort of businesses all along 23rd street in Chelsea.

And then where Errol Louis is located is Chelsea Market, which is full of restaurants, shops, art galleries, all types of businesses. And then around there, residences, homes as well. And this is one of the -- you know, not that any neighborhood is not up and coming in New York City, but this one is really a neighborhood that's in a middle of a renaissance, the prices in this neighborhood are going up or whatever very quickly.

But again, if indeed turns out to be targeted, why this particular neighborhood was targeted?

HARLOW: Right, because there's not some sort of big -- you know, it's not right the Brooklyn Bridge, or the World Trade Center or the New York Stock Exchange or some sort of iconic landmark there at all.

LEMON: You think it's closer to the Javits Center, but it's not.

HARLOW: Right.

LEMON: It's not in that particular area.

HARLOW: So, just to update our viewers, we are waiting for a press conference there. We will hear from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. We'll also hear from the brand new head of the New York City Police Department, James O'Neill, his first day on the job is today. We see one of his chief communications officers, he's right there. So, we'll bring that to you at any moment.

But again, so far, we have learned 25 people injured in this explosion, the cause of it unknown, gas has been ruled out, and we do know that all of those injuries at this point we're told are nonlife threatening.

LEMON: Yes, it will be interesting to hear what Jimmy O'Neill, who's the new NYPD commissioner, has to say about this. He may be the new NYPD commissioner, but he's certainly not new to the New York City Police Department. So, he is certainly used to dealing with these particular situations of this magnitude and even greater here in New York City.

And if any city is prepared to deal with something like this, it's New York City having dealt with 9/11 and many other terrible incidents that have happened to New York City.

Getting close to the top of hour. I want to tell everyone, it's almost 11:00 p.m. Eastern here --

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

LEMON: -- on the East Coast, and specifically New York City.

I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.

HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow here, along with Don tonight.

We have breaking news, out of New York City, an explosion that's taken place in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan right here in New York, in a very busy Saturday night. We are now hearing, there are a number of injuries, multiple injuries. The New York City Fire Department says at least 25 people are injured.

We have learned, though, that none of those injuries are life- threatening. Investigators believe what exploded may have been -- and I want to emphasize -- may have been an IED, an improvised explosive device.