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Crane collapse in New York City kills two

A large crane collapsed in New York City on Friday, killing two people and damaging an apartment building on Manhattan's Upper East Side - a day after city officials investigated the crane's operations.

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The crane operator and another construction worker died in
the collapse shortly after 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), a third
worker was seriously injured and a pedestrian received minor
injuries, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police said.


Bloomberg said the top section of the crane broke off and
smashed into an apartment building called The Electra, which is
more than 20 floors high, on 91st Street and First Avenue.


"We don't know why it snapped off and we will certainly do
an investigation," he said.


The crane was being used to build a 32-story apartment
building across the street. Bloomberg said seven buildings had
been evacuated while the stability of the crane section still
standing was checked.


Television footage showed part of the crane in a crumpled
mess in the street and a corner apartment at the top of The
Electra that had been demolished. Balconies had also been
ripped from apartments on The Electra as the crane fell.


New York City's Department of Buildings visited the site on
Thursday after receiving a complaint about the crane hoisting
over the street, which is a building code violation, said
acting Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri.


"Yesterday's investigation was about an inspection about
hoisting over the street, not about the crane and the way it
was installed," LiMandri said.


"UNACCEPTABLE"


The crane, owned by New York Crane Corp, was being used by
DeMatteis Organizations to build the Azure apartment building,
LiMandri said. The company is also building the U.S. mission to
the United Nations across the road from the U.N. headquarters.


In March, a giant crane fell and crushed a residential
building in midtown Manhattan, killing seven people and
injuring more than 10 others. In October, a crane dropped a
container of debris from the 53rd floor of a skyscraper near
Times Square, injuring several people.


The accidents could further dampen the multibillion-dollar
Manhattan real estate industry, which already is suffering a
downturn from the credit crisis.


"We're certainly on the downside of a cycle, and this is
certainly going to have a negative impact," said attorney
Jeffrey Reich, a partner at Wolf Haldenstein, which represents
New York developers.


New building regulations added as a result of the latest
crane accident could increase the time it takes to build, he
said. Following the March accident all tower cranes were
inspected and the buildings department said an inspector had to
be on-site whenever a tower crane was raised or lowered.


After Friday's accident the District of Columbia said it
would do emergency inspections of about 40 cranes in its area.


Bloomberg told local radio on Friday that public safety was
top priority and that the city would not "tolerate any rate of
accidents higher than it has to be."


"This is just unacceptable," he said. "The public walking
by shouldn't be at risk."
 

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