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Nighttime flash in Astoria grabs officials' attention

“I did not think it was a UFO,” Mayor de Blasio said.

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill spoke Friday in Times Square about Thursday's explosion at the Con Edison plant in Astoria. (Credit: Newsday / Matthew Chayes)

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday directed the state Public Service Commission to investigate an Astoria power plant’s electrical flash that cut power in parts of Queens, panicked some New Yorkers and cast the night sky into otherworldly blue.

Although no one was hurt and no property damaged by what happened around 9 p.m. at Con Edison's plant, service at nearby LaGuardia Airport was disrupted, the 7 subway line was delayed, and the Rikers Island jails had to rely on backup generators, Cuomo said, as social media had bubbled with rumors of an imminent alien invasion. 

“The Public Service Commission will be working with Con Ed to review the equipment and to see if there are any modifications that can be made to make sure it doesn't happen again,” Cuomo said Friday afternoon at the plant.

He said that power was back on “in an amazingly short period of time, given the malfunction,” and that the airport would explore how to deploy backup generators to avert future power loss.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill, speaking at an unrelated event in Times Square, said the incident “caused many people in New York City some great concerns.”

O’Neill said in the half hour before the incident there were 911 calls — and more than 3,200 during the same period covering the incident.

“Some people thought it was a bomb, there is blue light in the sky, blackout conditions,” O’Neill said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was “keeping a close eye” on the air quality in the Astoria area.

De Blasio laughed off a tabloid reporter’s question asking whether the mayor thought the blue light was an unidentified flying object.

“I did not think it was a UFO,” de Blasio said.

Cuomo’s office tweeted out a photo of Cuomo holding an alien-style mask, adding: “There is no truth to rumors of an alien invasion in Astoria. But we did find this unusual piece of evidence…”

In reply came a succession of tweets demanding that Cuomo address an additional matter: the state's subway crisis.

“aliens would prolly fix the subway tbh,” one user wrote.


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