The death toll from yesterday's suspected gas explosion in New York has risen to seven.

About 60 others were injured in the blast, which destroyed two apartment buildings in the city.

Search crews are continuing to search for survivors at the East Harlem apartment buildings.

Five people remained missing this morning, New York Police Detective Martin Speechley said.

Firefighters, police officers and a team from the National Transportation Safety Board are trying to determine what caused the explosion.

The blast was heard at around 9.30am local time (1.30pm Irish time), causing the two buildings at 116th Street and Park Avenue in Upper Manhattan to collapse.

Local utility company Con Edison said it received a call from a resident of an adjacent building reporting that he smelled gas inside his apartment, but he thought the smell could be coming from outside.

The company said it sent two crews to the scene after the call, but they arrived just after the explosion.

Four women and three men were killed in the building collapse.

Most of those wounded suffered from cuts, broken bones or smoke inhalation, police said.

The blast levelled the apartment buildings, located above a ground-floor church and a piano store, sending twisted and burnt metal onto the footpath and burying parked cars.