There was a boom; then a hum. The lights flickered. A giant plume of smoke filled the New York City sky, and turned it blue.
“A sort of unnatural, fluorescent shade of blue,” said Bill San Antonio, 28, who was watching Thursday night from inside a terminal at La Guardia Airport.
“We thought it was a U.F.O.,” said Yiota Androtsakis, a longtime Astoria resident.
Ms. Androtsakis was not the only one. In the earliest moments, hundreds of Twitter users from across the city posted videos of the eerie lights, causing many on social media to fear an alien invasion.
By late Thursday night officials said the event was caused by nothing more than a transformer explosion.
“No injuries, no fire, no evidence of extraterrestrial activity,” the New York Police Department tweeted, adding later that the explosion was not suspicious. There was one Con Edison employee nearby when the fire started, and the authorities said he was unharmed.
Still, Deputy Inspector Osvaldo Nuñez, the commanding officer of the 114th Precinct, conceded that the episode “was spectacular.”
“You could see it from the precinct, and the precinct is about a half-mile away,” he said. “You felt it in your chest, the explosions, and the night sky turned an electric blue.”
All the excitement caused plenty of problems. Inspector Nuñez said the bright lights and loud bangs caused a surge of 911 calls, with residents reporting explosions and one person calling in a plane crash.
The power went down briefly at La Guardia Airport, forcing a ground stop and causing delays. And the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said in a tweet that No. 7 train service had been disrupted by the power failures.
Even the Rikers Island prison complex, which houses about 10,000 inmates, lost power for about 25 minutes, according to a woman who answered the phone at the North Infirmary Command.
“There’s been confusion pretty much from the start,” said Mr. San Antonio, who was waiting to board a flight to Dallas when the power went out at La Guardia. After the power came back on, he got a text message. His flight had been canceled.
In a statement on Twitter, Con Edison said there had been “a brief electrical fire” at one of its substations in Astoria, “which involved some electrical transformers and caused a transmission dip in the area.” Mayor Bill de Blasio said the blue light was caused by an electrical surge at the substation.
On Twitter, utility officials apologized to dozens of alarmed customers, saying they were “aware of this situation.” Although power failures were reported in parts of Jackson Heights, the utility said late Thursday that “all power lines serving the area are in service and the system is stable.”
Nonetheless, residents on Thursday night were shaken. Ms. Androtsakis said she heard the “weird noise” even through closed windows; after it ceased, she said, she could still hear it in her ears.
The lights were so bright, she added, that in some places an otherwise dark night was as bright as day.
“It was scary,” said Ms. Androtsakis’s neighbor, Mickey, who declined to give his last name. “It was like something from outer space, like we were invaded.”
Closer to the power plant, Peter Dipietrantonio said he and his girlfriend heard a bang and then saw a “green aura” fill his window. Moments later, he said, he saw people rushing away on the street.
“Once we saw people running, we decided to get out,” he said. His girlfriend, Dana Jefferson, stood on the street, carrying the duffel bag she had quickly packed. “She was ready to go,” he said.
9-year-old genius to graduate university
(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.
Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.
Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.
He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.
His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.
“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.
Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.
While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.
But Lydia has her own theory.
“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.
The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.
“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.
“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”
Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.
“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”
Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”
His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.
“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.
“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”
While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.
“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”
Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.
However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.
In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.
Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.
New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne
Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem
Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.
The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.
Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.
🚨WANTED for ASSAULT: on 11/6 at approx 3:43 PM in front of 128 West 112th St in Manhattan, a 32 yr old male was walking with his 8 yr old son when a white BMW jumped the curb & hit the father & son. The driver then got out and slashed the father. Call @NYPDTips with any info. pic.twitter.com/cwd79rcM4c
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 15, 2019
Father and son were both knocked through a gate.
The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.
One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.
McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.
McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.
Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.
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