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Steam pipe explosion sends pedestrians rushing for cover in New York

No-one was injured but people have been warned to take precautions against asbestos.

A steam pipe has exploded beneath New York’s Fifth Avenue, hurling chunks of asphalt flying.

The blast sent a geyser of billowing white steam into the air and forced pedestrians to take cover.

No injuries were reported, but Con Ed, which owns the subterranean pipe, warned people who may have got material on them to bag their clothes and shower immediately as a precaution against possible asbestos.

Buildings along several blocks of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan were evacuated as a precaution.

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A steam pipe exploded beneath a street in Manhattan (Richard Drew/AP)

The high-pressure steam leak was reported at around 6.40am on Thursday morning.

The steam was still billowing about 10 stories high two hours later.

WABC reported there also were manhole explosions from West 19th Street to West 21st streets.

Some subway trains were bypassing the area.

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Steam billowing in New York (Richard Drew/AP)

“I was riding my Citi Bike to work and just as I was crossing Fifth Avenue around 25th Street, I looked down Fifth Avenue and saw smoke coming,” Jerry Bonura, who works at a consulting firm, told the Daily News.

The “cloud wasn’t too big at first, but I could tell it probably wasn’t a fire since the smoke was lightly coloured as opposed to dark coloured from a building fire, and I heard kind of a windy/blowing noise coming from it”.

“I looked around and saw this big huge plume of steam shoot into the air,” said Daniel Lizio-Katzen, 42, who was riding his bike home to the West Village.

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