Page last updated at 16:55 GMT, Monday, 6 July 2009 17:55 UK

Crane collapses on to apartments

Residents said they felt the building shaking

A crane moving a five-tonne weight has collapsed on to a block of flats in Liverpool city centre.

The crane driver was rescued from the roof of the building at Tabley Street and taken to hospital where he is said to be in a "stable" condition.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said residents had a "lucky escape" when the weight attached to the crane's arm went through the building at lunchtime.

The Health and Safety Executive has started an investigation.

Eyewitness James Johnson told the BBC the crane had been left "wrapped over" the four-storey building.

Mr Johnson, 26, lives in the apartment block opposite the building and witnessed the aftermath.

Crane interview

Residents from the apartments were evacuated when the crane collapsed on Monday

"I just heard this huge crash and I just thought they dropped some concrete," he told BBC News.

"But when I looked out of the window I saw the crane wrapped over the top of the building."

James Berry, group manager for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, said a search was conducted on all floors of the building to make sure all residents were accounted for.

Holes in floor

"It's fortunate that, at that time of the day, the majority of flats would have been unoccupied," he said.

"Significant resources are here from the police, fire and regional ambulance and we expect to be here for some time."

Crane through building
The end of the crane appeared to pierce part of the roof

The crane had been working on a nearby apartment block at the time of the incident.

Resident Sarah Banfield was helped out of the Chandler's Wharf building along with her boyfriend, Andrew, by a builder.

She said she dodged plumes of dust, falling debris and holes in the floor to get out.

"The whole building shuddered. It felt like it was literally shaking," she said.

"We grabbed hold of each other because it seemed to go on for ages, we thought it was an earthquake.

"We tried to get out so opened our front door and there was dust everywhere.

"We went through the emergency exit but it was full of falling debris.

"I stepped across a hole in the floor which had bits of metal sticking out of it, I don't know how I did it."

Structural engineers are assessing the damage and Merseyside Police is advising motorists to avoid the area.

Liverpool City Council has set up a rest centre at Park Road Leisure Centre, Toxteth, for those people who cannot return to their apartments.

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