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Thread: NYC Crane Collapse Kills Four.

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    NYC Crane Collapse Kills Four.

    Posted: 03-15-2008
    Updated: 03-15-2008 09:05:47 PM

    By PAT RIZZO and CLARE TRAPASSO
    Associated Press Writers


    NEW YORK --

    A crane mounted to the side of a skyscraper under construction toppled with a roar Saturday, smashing into a block of apartment buildings, killing at least four people and setting off a scramble for survivors in the rubble.

    The crane split into pieces as it fell, pulverizing a four-story townhouse and demolishing parts of three other buildings. One man was pulled from the townhouse 3 1/2 hours after the building was crushed.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at least four people, believed to be construction workers, have died and at least 10 people were injured in one of the city's worst construction accidents in recent memory.

    The collapse devastated the affluent block on Manhattan's East Side: Cars were overturned and crushed. A huge dust cloud rose over the neighborhood. Rubble was piled several stories high.

    "It's a horrible situation, very gory. There's blood in the street," said Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who takes over as governor for disgraced Eliot Spitzer on Monday.

    An intensive rescue operation was under way to find anyone possibly trapped in the rubble on 51st Street near 2nd Avenue.

    Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said the rescue was "a painstaking hand operation, as we try to remove the rubble so we don't cause further collapse or injure anyone who may still be in that building." He said the operation would continue all night if necessary, including the use of search dogs and thermal-imaging and listening devices.

    John LaGreco, who owns Fubar in the crushed building, said he feared one of his employees was dead inside.

    "Our bar is done," he said. "The crane crashed the whole building. If I wasn't watching a Yankees game, I would've come to work early and gotten killed."

    About 19 of the planned 43-story condominium had been erected, and the crane was scheduled to be extended Saturday so workers could start work on a fresh story, said an owner of the company that manages the construction site.

    A piece of steel fell and sheared off one of the ties holding it to the building, causing it to detach and topple, said Stephen Kaplan, an owner of the Reliance Construction Group.

    "It was an absolute freak accident," Kaplan said. "All the piece of steel had to do was fall slightly left or right, and nothing would have happened."

    Kaplan said the company had subcontracted the work to different companies and was not in charge of the crane. Phone messages and an e-mail left for the crane's owner, New York Crane & Equipment Corp., were not immediately returned.

    Kaplan wasn't sure whether any workers at the site were among those killed.

    James Kennelly, the lead partner at East 51st Development Company, which was overseeing the project, issued a written statement expressing the group's dismay over the accident.

    "There are no words to describe the level of devastation we feel today as a result of this tragic event," he said. "Our heart and prayers are with the families of those who died in this horrible accident. We are also praying for a full recovery for the individuals who have been injured today."

    Neighborhood residents said they had complained to the city several times about the construction at the site, saying crews worked illegal hours and the building was going up too fast.

    City officials said they had issued 13 violations to the site in the last 27 months, a normal amount for a project of that size. Inspectors examined the crane Friday and found nothing wrong with it.

    City Building Department records showed that on March 4, a caller told officials that the upper portions of the crane appeared to lack the proper number of safety ties attaching it to the building.

    A city inspector visited the site and determined on March 6 that no violation was warranted.

    The collapse comes amid a building boom in New York City and follows a spate of construction accidents in recent months, including some involving cranes.

    On Saturday, nearby residents reported hearing a terrible roar as the structure detached from the condominium.

    "First I heard a rumble, and it increased, and then it increased," said Bill Reilly, who lives a block away. "It continued building in strength until there was a final vroom! It shook the six-story brick building that I live in."

    Associated Press Writer Verena Dobnik contributed to this report.
    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=45&id=58740
    photo AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  2. #2
    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Death count reaches 5

    Crane Collapse Kills Five in New York City


    Posted: 03-15-2008
    Updated: 03-17-2008 11:33:43 AM

    By KAREN MATTHEWS
    Associated Press Writers

    New York City first responders remove a victim of a crane collapse to an awaiting ambulance.


    NEW YORK --

    The body of a construction worker was pulled from the rubble Monday at the site of a crane collapse, raising the death toll to five and dimming hopes more survivors would be discovered. Two people were still missing.

    The crane rose 19 stories and was attached to an apartment tower under construction when it broke away Saturday and toppled like a tree onto buildings as far as a block away. Workers had managed to move large pieces of the crane away by Monday.

    Two people - a woman and a construction worker - were believed to be inside a town house that was demolished when the crane came crashing down on the Manhatatn neighborhood a few blocks from the United Nations on the city's east side.

    The missing woman had come from Miami to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and to visit a friend who lived in the town house, said John LaGreco, owner of Fubar, a saloon on the ground floor of the town house. The woman was in her friend's second-floor apartment at the time of the accident, he said. Her friend was rescued, he said.

    Debris was being cleared "delicately and meticulously" to prevent further damage, said Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster, who joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials at the scene on Sunday.

    Twenty-four others were injured, including 11 first responders, Bloomberg said. Eight people remained hospitalized, officials said.

    Officials were investigating whether human or mechanical error led to the construction-site accident, which the mayor described as among the city's worst. City officials said the broken crane passed inspection Friday.

    Investigators were focusing on a heavy-duty collar used to tie the crane to the building's side, including whether a series of hoists and nylon straps was strong enough to sustain its weight, Lancaster told the New York Times.

    The city had answered 38 complaints and issued more than a dozen violations in the past 27 months to the construction site where a 43-story high-rise condominium was going up. None of the violations was related to the crane, Bloomberg said.

    On Sunday, the Reliance Construction Group, the project's contractor, released a statement expressing sympathy to the families of the dead and injured and said it was cooperating with government investigators.

    "We have already launched our own internal investigation to understand exactly what caused this tragedy and we believe it is prudent not to comment further at this time," the company said.

    The four workers killed in the accident were identified as Wayne Bleidner, 51, of Pelham; Brad Cohen, 54, of Farmingdale; Anthony Mazza, 39; and Aaron Stephens, 45, of New York City, police said Sunday. The worker found Monday had not yet been identified.

    About 250 cranes operate in the city on any given day, and the accident shouldn't alarm New Yorkers living near high-rise construction sites, the mayor said. "This is a very tragic but also a very rare occurrence," he said.

    But neighborhood residents and a Manhattan borough official raised concerns about city inspections at the apartment tower.

    Retired ironworker Kerry Walker, who with his wife lived in the top-floor apartment of the four-story town house and left minutes before the collapse, had complained that the crane appeared dangerously unstable, his stepson said.

    "He knows all about cranes and said this one had no braces, everything was too minimal," John Viscardi said. "He told one friend on the phone that 'if you don't hear from me, it's because the crane fell on my house.'"

    ___

    Associated Press writers Karen Matthews and Richard Pyle contributed to this report.
    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=45&id=58740

    Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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