Mystery odor permeates Manhattan - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/8/07-NEW YORK

Mystery odor permeates Manhattan

 Authorities were investigating the source of a mysterious gas-like odor Monday that stretched across a large part of Manhattan, including Rockefeller Center.

"One thing we are very confident of, it's not dangerous," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference.

The Fire Department began getting calls about the odor around 9 a.m. Monday, said spokesman Tim Hinchey. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey temporarily suspended some of its PATH commuter train service between New Jersey and Manhattan as a precaution.

Bloomberg said the city's air sensors had not detected an elevated level of natural gas.

Bloomberg said there was a small gas leak at Bleecker Street and Sixth Avenue, but the odor from that leak would not account for the pervasive smell.

Utility crews from Consolidated Edison were investigating, but they had found no abnormal changes in the gas flow with in its transmission system, said spokesman Chris Olert. "If there was a big leak, we would see a change in the gas flow," he said.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said there was no indication of terrorism and no credible intelligence to suggest any imminent threat to the city. He said the agency is closely monitoring the situation.

In some areas, office buildings and apartment buildings were evacuated as a precaution.

The mayor advised people affected by the smell to open windows and turn on fans to ventilate rooms.

Across the Hudson River, Jersey City, New Jersey, mayor's spokeswoman Maria Pignataro said when she left her downtown apartment Monday morning she was immediately hit with gas fumes.

"If you were in a gas station, [the odor] would be magnified 1,000 times," she told CNN.

"The smell was very strong. It was very scary," said Yolanda Van Gemd, an administrator at ASA, a business school near the Empire State Building that was evacuated as a precaution.

In August, seven people were treated at hospitals after a gaseous smell in the boroughs of Queens and Staten Island.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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