STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
It's a good moment for caution about what we know about an explosion in Midtown Manhattan in New York City today. What we do know, according to the New York City Police Department, is that sometime before 7:45, which is when they made an announcement, there was an explosion at the gigantic Port Authority Bus Terminal. Transit lines have been evacuated in some cases. There are mixed reports about the status of a suspect in that explosion. And there's a lot of police activity around the Port Authority Bus Terminal. And it is in that area that we find NPR's Amita Kelly. How are you doing?
AMITA KELLY, BYLINE: Hi. Good, Steve. How are you?
INSKEEP: What do you see?
KELLY: So I'm standing at the corner of 43rd Street and 8th Avenue, which is just a short walk away from where this incident happened. There's still very heavy police and fire presence. I'm outside a subway exit. One of the 42nd Street Port Authority stations has police tape all over it, and they're redirecting people a few avenues away to continue their morning commute on different subway routes.
INSKEEP: So you've got that giant subway line, the A, C and E, which runs all the way up the West Side of Manhattan.
INSKEEP: And it's just, as far as you can tell, shut. Or at least in that portion in the middle of the line, it's shot.
KELLY: Exactly. Yup.
INSKEEP: Would you describe the landscape a little bit there?
KELLY: So several streets are closed off at the moment, but it's a very crowded area on a normal day. And especially through the holidays, this is sort of the heart of New York's Times Square area. So between the evacuation at Port Authority, the subway line, there's more crowd than usual flowing through. But as New Yorkers will do, most people are kind of moving on with their morning commutes, walking around the barricade. It's interesting - in Times Square - if anyone's ever been there, there's huge TVs with news displaying. So people certainly know what's happening. And this incident has been on the news. But people are mostly, you know, talking about it, talking about how it's affected their morning commute and moving on.
INSKEEP: You know, I'm not sure if people have not seen it - that they realize when we say bus terminal, just how immense this facility is. I think it covers a couple of entire blocks in Manhattan. It's a very high building. I used to commute there every day. And I'm just remembering the immense crowds that would go through there at this time in the morning.
KELLY: Right. Exactly. And now several - at least several blocks have been blocked off, including that bus terminal. So there's certainly a lot of traffic being moved elsewhere and a heavy police presence trying to help people do that. I also saw some stretchers earlier. I know there's been conflicting reports of injuries, as well. We don't know much about that at this time, but there's certainly a medical presence.
INSKEEP: Let's be clear on that. You said you saw stretchers. Did you see people on the stretchers?
KELLY: I did not.
INSKEEP: OK. So we don't really know...
KELLY: So it may have been a precaution.
INSKEEP: Exactly. No, it would be good to have the precaution. We really don't know anything about injuries at this point. And we should be frank about what we don't know. There are multiple conflicting reports about a suspect or the status of a suspect. And we're going to hold that open for now until we learn more. Can you give me an idea of the degree of tension, if any, in the city, Amita?
KELLY: There's not a lot of tension, somewhat surprisingly. But that may be normal for New York at this point. There are some people definitely worried and kind of standing outside the barricade. But I also heard officers several times tell people, don't take photos. This isn't, you know, an opportunity for photos. So it's not so much tension, I think, as people want to know what's happening and what's going on.
INSKEEP: OK. I've been looking at social media at photos of the spot. I don't think anybody's following that particular advice.
INSKEEP: (Laughter) But you're saying that this is - I mean, to the extent that people can, because it's New York, they're going about their commute.
KELLY: Exactly. And most of the grumbles and folks I've been speaking to and hearing here are talking mostly about their commute and, you know, what they know about the incident. But there isn't panic or a lot of widespread fear at this point.
INSKEEP: OK. Amita, thanks very much, really appreciate the update.
KELLY: Thanks, Steve.
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Amita Kelly. She is in New York City, outside the immense Port Authority Bus Terminal, where, according to the New York police, there was an explosion this morning. They sent out word of that about 7:45 Eastern Time - so some time a little bit before that in the heart of morning rush hour, when many, many thousands of people would have been passing through. We have no word on injuries and no precise word on a suspect. So we'll bring you more information as we learn it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.