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Page last updated at 19:28 GMT, Friday, 30 May 2008 20:28 UK

Chaos as crane collapses in NYC

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Aerial footage of the crane collapse

At least two people have been killed and one seriously injured by the sudden collapse of a crane in New York's Upper East Side during the morning rush hour.

It crashed into the top floor of a 23-storey block of flats as it fell.

Seven buildings in the area have been evacuated as a precaution, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

It is the second such incident in the city this year - seven people died in a crane collapse in the same wealthy Manhattan area in March.

This latest collapse took place at the intersection of East 91st Street and First Avenue.

At a news conference, Mayor Bloomberg said that all the casualties were construction workers.

The two men who died were identified as Ramadan Kurtas, 27, and Donald Leo, 30, believed to be the operator of the crane, the Associated Press news agency reports.

New York crane collapse, photo by Justine Elliott

Another man is in hospital reportedly being treated for a chest wound. One pedestrian was treated for minor injuries.

Witnesses said the horizontal arm of the crane snapped off, propelling the cab and the upper portion of the arm onto a residential building across the street.

Justine Elliot, who lives nearby, told the BBC News website that the crane had been visible from her window:

"I was checking my phone and email at 0805 this morning and heard what sounded like demolition... I saw the crane come down, missing some cars on the road. It looked like chaos as fire engines and choppers came to the scene and people gathered round to look."

Firefighters are still clearing the wreckage.

"The sound was like a thunderclap. Then, an earthquake," Peter Barba, a resident of the damaged building, told the Associated Press.

The upper-floor balconies of the building were damaged and the crane ripped a hole several storeys down the side of the building.

Mr Bloomberg said it was unclear why the crane had collapsed but that an initial examination of the crane's records showed that it had been inspected and was in compliance with safety regulations.

Resignation

The 15 March crane accident destroyed a four-storey townhouse and demolished parts of five other buildings.

Contractors were trying to lengthen the crane when a steel support broke.

In April, New York's buildings commissioner resigned, after criticism over a number of construction accidents.

The BBC's Laura Trevelyan in New York says questions are now being asked about safety issues in Manhattan's construction industry.

New York map




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