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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 17:02 GMT
Skyscraper crane 'toppled over'
The crane
The crane crashed 450 feet to the ground
An eyewitness has described the moment a 450-feet-high crane "toppled back", crashing to the ground and killing three construction workers.

Harban Canak's flat overlooked London's Canary Wharf, where the HSBC skyscraper was being built when the crane snapped on 21 May 2000.

She told an inquest at St Pancras Coroner's Court: "I looked out of the window and saw what looked like the cable from the crane flying about."

She said the jib - the arm of the crane - was "almost vertical".

"I saw the top topple back, it just left the mast," she said.

Supervisor Michael Whittard, 36, from Leeds, Martin Burgess, 31, from Castleford, West Yorkshire, and crane operator Peter Clark, 33, from Southwark, south London were killed in the incident.

I thought I was going down with the crane
Eamonn Glover
They were part of a team employed by Hewden Tower Cranes to make the crane taller by adding new sections.

They had almost finished when part of the crane, called the climbing frame, began twisting.

Survivor Eamonn Glover earlier told how he realised something was wrong when everything started creaking.

He said: "I jumped over the handrail and got two rungs down," Mr Glover told the inquest.

"Everything came over the top of my head and the whole thing shook.

"I was hanging on, I don't know if I blacked out or had my eyes shut - I could see nothing."

Mr Glover survived by hanging onto construction equipment as the crane fell away.

"I actually thought I was going down with the crane," he said.

"When everything stopped I looked up and there was no crane there."

Safety plug 'missing'

After the accident the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published an industry-wide discussion paper about how to improve the operation to lengthen cranes.

Mr Glover told the inquest a special safety plug was missing from equipment which could have stopped the crane moving.

And he explained the crane did not have an anemometer - used to measure wind speed - although there was no problem with the weather that day.

The inquest continues.

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