July 19 (UPI) -- A steam pipe explosion in New York City Thursday injured five people and forced hundreds of people in dozens of Manhattan buildings to evacuate, authorities said.
Officials said the high-pressure steam pipe exploded on 5th Avenue near 21st Street Thursday morning, ripping apart the pavement and sending plumes of steam into the air.
"A steam line exploded and caused a massive disruption of a gas line, water main, and some electrical power," the Fire Department of New York said in a statement.
The pipe in the city's Flatiron District was 86 years old and 20 inches in diameter. Three FDNY alarms were called.
Officials warned the evacuation orders could last several days as environmental tests for asbestos are done.
"There are 28 buildings right now that have been evacuated and will remain that way for a while," the FDNY said. "We're operating with an abundance of caution since this steam main was installed in 1932, so there is possibly a presence of asbestos. Samples have been taken and we're awaiting the lab results. We are operating as though those samples will come back positive."
More than 100 firefighters, New York Police Department officers and crews from utility Con Edison responded to the blast.