Dye packs explode after bank robbery

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NEW YORK (AP) – More than a dozen people were exposed to an eye-irritating red mist when security dye packs exploded inside a bag of money being carried by an escaping bank robber, authorities said. No one was seriously hurt.

Raul Moreno, 18, was with friends in midtown Manhattan outside a movie theater when he saw what he described as a “cloud of red smoke” that made his throat dry and his eyes watery.

Leeann Mendoza, 21, said she saw the bag explode and there was “red smoke everywhere.”

“Our eyes started burning,” she said.

Police were called to the robbery at the Wachovia Bank branch at 58th Street and Lexington Avenue, a block from the Bloomingdale’s department store, just after 5 p.m.

No arrests had been made late Thursday.

Banks typically use the exploding hidden dye packs to track stolen money.

Seventeen people were exposed to the dye, Emergency Medical Services Deputy Chief Laurie Santo said. Five children received medical treatment as a precaution; the adults declined medical treatment.

“It’s scary, but everything was under control very quickly,” Santo said.

A telephone message left for a spokeswoman for Wachovia was not immediately returned Thursday night.

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