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Mystery smell settles over Manhattan

Story Highlights

• NEW: Seven people went to hospitals but weren't admitted, officials said
• Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls the odor "unpleasant" but harmless
• Smell is detected throughout Manhattan and in parts of New Jersey
• Some buildings are evacuated; PATH commuter train line temporarily suspended
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York officials evacuated a number of buildings and shut down some trains after a mysterious gaslike odor was reported Monday.

A New York Police Department spokesman said an air quality test determined that the air is not hazardous, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said there is no indication terrorism was involved.

The city's Office of Emergency Management reported no injuries, and spokesman Jared Bernstein said early Monday afternoon that the number of calls into the office had dwindled since the smell was first reported Monday morning.

In New Jersey, seven people went to hospitals complaining of symptoms they said were related to the odor, but none were admitted, said Nathan Rudy, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the smell "unpleasant" but said it posed no harm. (Watch how officials are baffled by the odor Video)

"One thing we are very confident of, it's not dangerous," Bloomberg said. "How long and what the sources are, we just don't know."

The pervasive odor was reported throughout Manhattan and as far away as Newark, New Jersey, 10 miles west of the Big Apple.

In New York, the smell was reported from Midtown to Battery Park City.

Authorities are investigating the source of the smell. Several buildings were evacuated, and the PATH commuter trains along the Sixth Avenue line were temporarily suspended. The odor had no effect on subway service in the city.

Utility company officials said a comprehensive search found no gas leaks.

Steven Jones of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management said officials were looking at facilities involved in the production of mercaptan, the chemical additive put in otherwise odorless natural gas to gives it a "rotten egg" smell.

Bloomberg earlier spoke of a "small gas leak" near Sixth Avenue and Bleecker Street but said he didn't believe it could account for the smell being reported in New Jersey.

"We're all working together to pinpoint the nature of the leak," he said. "So far, the city's air sensors do not report any elevated level of gas."

Consolidated Edison spokesman Chris Olert said the utility provider later informed Bloomberg it could find no gas leaks in the areas it serves, which includes Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester County and a portion of Queens.

Consolidated Edison told officials there was no drop in gas pressure in the city, according to police.


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The odor was reported across Manhattan, from Midtown to Battery Park City.

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