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Last Updated: Monday, 17 July 2006, 01:38 GMT 02:38 UK
New York house blast doctor dies
34 East 62nd Street, New York City
The building was due to be sold at auction
A New York doctor suspected of blowing up his own house to prevent his ex-wife benefiting from its sale after their divorce has died from his injuries.

Nicholas Bartha, 66, was alone in his house in the city's Upper East Side when it was flattened by an explosion a week ago.

His former wife said she had received an e-mail in which Bartha said he would only leave the house if he was dead.

Ten firefighters and five other people were injured by the blast.

Police had been unable to interview Bartha, who had been in a medically-induced coma, after being taken to hospital with severe burns.

He was rescued from the rubble of his four-storey town house, on East 62nd Street between Park and Madison Avenues.

Collapsed building
The explosion left nothing but rubble

Investigators determined that gas had been allowed to fill the house, causing an explosion which destroyed the whole building.

The property was valued at $6.4m, according to the New York City finance department. Bartha faced a $4m divorce payment to his former wife, Cordula, and the house was to be sold at auction in October.

Cordula Bartha told police she had received an e-mail shortly before the explosion telling her she would be "transformed from a gold digger to an ash and rubbish digger".

"I always told you I will leave the house only if I am dead," the e-mail went on.

"You ridiculed me. You should have taken it seriously."

Neighbours are now suing Bartha's estate for damages they say were caused to their property by the explosion.

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