The storm engulfing New York has ripped a crane off the top of a 65-story luxury building and torn the face off an apartment in the West Village, leaving the insides of several homes exposed.
The construction crane was left dangling precariously over the edge of a building on West 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan, while nearby streets and buildings were cleared as a precaution.
The fire department reported that it had responded to a multiple-dwelling building collapse at Eight Avenue and 14th Street.
People are reportedly trapped inside the structure, but additional information about the 7:00 p.m. accident is not yet known.
The call over the crane collapse came in around 2:30 p.m. yesterday as conditions worsened and Hurricane Sandy approached.
Meteorologists said winds atop the building could have been close to 95 mph at the time.
New York City evacuated neighbors of the nearly completed luxury apartment building after the collapse prompted fears the crane’s boom could crash to the ground.
The buildings that were evacuated included the Parker Meridien hotel with 900 guests.
The crane’s upper arm dangled over the street near Central Park from what should eventually become the city’s tallest residential building.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the crane had been inspected on Friday, as other construction cranes had ahead of the storm, and that the cause of the accident remained unknown.
Engineers went to the top of the building to examine the crane but stopped short of attempting any repairs, officials said.
The New York City Buildings Department suspended construction work at 5:00 p.m. Saturday in anticipation of the storm.
The government body reminded contractors and property owners to secure construction sites and buildings.
It was also performing random inspections to make sure equipment was secured.
Michael Bloomberg told a news conference: “It’s conceivable that nobody did anything wrong whatsoever and it wasn’t even a malfunction, it was just a strange gust of wind.
“Just because it was inspected, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t do things or that metal doesn’t fail. There’s no reason to think at this point in time that the inspection wasn’t adequate.”
Firefighters closed streets for several blocks surrounding the site, evacuated 300 apartments in three buildings and were preparing to evacuate more, a Fire Department spokesman said.
A spokeswoman for Lend Lease, construction manager for the project, said the company was working with city officials to secure the structure but the weather remained severe.
Passers-by stared in apprehension, while some stopped to take pictures of the building that will feature $90 million duplexes.
The contractor was Australia’s Lend Lease Construction and Canada’s Pinnacle Industries own the crane, said Mary Costello, a spokeswoman for Lend Lease.
“We are working with structural engineers and the DOB [Department of Buildings] on evaluating any additional measures that can be taken to secure the boom and crane structure,” Mary Costello said.
The billionaires behind fashion label Michael Kors, Lawrence Stroll and Silas Chou, have both signed contracts for $50 million full-floor apartments in the tower at 157 W. 57th Street.
A sprawling 13,554 square foot apartment on the 75th and 76th floor on the building, reportedly sold for $90 million to an unknown buyer and the penthouse of One57, located on the 89th and 90th floors, was rumored to have sold for $95 million.