By William K. Rashbaum, Jonah Engel Bromwich and Brian M. Rosenthal
NEW YORK – An explosion Monday morning caused authorities to evacuate one of the busiest transit hubs in New York City as the workweek was set to begin.
The Police Department said in a tweet that it was responding to reports of an explosion of unknown origin at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, where two subway stations, Times Square and Port Authority, are connected by a tunnel. The Port Authority bus station was also evacuated.
Soon after the explosion was reported, New Yorkers’ workday exploded into chaos. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported that 1, 2, 3, A, C, E, N, Q, R, W and 7 trains were skipping 42nd Street.
Two people were in custody, a law enforcement official said. One may have been carrying a device that could have been a pipe bomb, which exploded.
The official emphasized that the information was preliminary and investigators were still arriving at the scene. The explosion occurred in the passageway between the two subway stations.
A senior emergency official said that one person, the assailant, was seriously injured by the explosion. The police said that no other injuries had been reported and advised people to avoid the area.
Commuters underground near 40th Street and 8th Avenue began to flee after a loud, muffled sound was heard in the Port Authority subway station. Police officers, firefighters and Port Authority counterterrorism officials tried to clear commuters from the bus station and the west side of 8th Avenue as sirens blared.
Andre Rodriguez, 62, a caseworker at one of the city’s shelters, said he heard an explosion shortly before 7:30.
“I was going through the turnstile,” he said. “It sounded like an explosion, and everybody started running.”
Alicja Wlodkowski, 51, said that she had been in a restaurant inside the Port Authority when she suddenly saw a crowd of people running.
“A woman fell, and nobody even stopped to help her because it was so crazy,” she said. Then it all slowed down. I was standing and watching and scared.”