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Another New York City Crane Collapse, Reports of One Death

May 30, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

A crane collapsed in New York City this morning, destroying a corner penthouse on an adjacent building.  According to CNN, the crane collapsed at 91st Street and 1st Avenue on Manhattan's upper east side shortly after 8:00 a.m.  Media reports said that two people were pulled from the wreckage, and early reports said there was one fatality.  It is also not known if anyone else was trapped, injured or killed as a result of the New York City crane collapse.

The crane, which collapsed at the height of rush hour, fell more than twelve stories into the street below.  According to CNN, the building hit in the New York City crane collapse was called the Electra. The crane was mounted on a building called the Azure, which was under construction, CNN reported.

An Associated Press report said that one person was killed in the accident. Footage aired on CNN showed firefighters removing two stretchers from the scene - both fully covered. An eyewitness told CNN that between 20 and 25 people were in the area when the crane collapsed, and it is not known how many were able to get away in time to avoid injury.

New York City has been beset by construction accidents recently, and this was the second crane collapse in two months.  That tragedy occurred two miles south of today's accident on the east side of midtown Manhattan.  The March crane collapse also destroyed a townhouse, and seriously damaged five other buildings.  Six workers from the construction site, as well as a Florida woman visiting the city who was staying with a friend in the destroyed townhouse, were killed in the March incident.

Following the March New York City crane collapse, a city inspector - who allegedly had lied about inspecting the doomed crane in the weeks before the collapse - was arrested for falsifying records.  The March crane collapse followed complaints from residents about the site and led to the resignation of New York City Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster.

Despite the obvious danger posed by the construction cranes that dot the New York City skyline, the city Buildings Department revised its crane inspection rules just two days ago.  The department nixed a requirement that a city inspector be present every time a construction crane is erected or made taller.  Rather, inspectors will make spot checks of the crane raisings, known as jumps, and of safety meetings at which procedures for each jump must be laid out. The department kept a warning about nylon slings, saying they should be used during jumps only if the crane manufacturer recommends them, and then only with special padding to protect them from sharp edges on the crane pieces.

The New York Times reported that investigators looking into the March collapse have focused on nylon slings that broke during such a jump. The slings had been used to hold up a massive steel collar that was placed high up on the crane to help stabilize it.

As a result of today's crane collapse, 1st Avenue has been closed to traffic between 86th and 96th Streets. Vehicles traveling between 79th and 86th Streets may not turn on to First Avenue. On East 91st Street, traffic has been closed between York and Second Avenues. “All side streets in the general area are subject to closure,” the Police Department said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported that several bus lines — the M15, M31, M86 and the X90 — have been rerouted because of the accident.

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