Friday, May 30, 2008

Breaking: Yet Another Crane Collapse in NYC

The Fire Department said it has pulled people out of the wreckage at 354 East 91st Street near First Avenue. Their conditions were not immediately known.

The top floor of a nearby high-rise apartment building was damaged. Firefighters and rescue workers were continuing to search through the wreckage.

The accident happened 2½ months after a crane collapsed, killing seven people about two miles south.
It's not known how or why this particular crane collapsed, but will continue monitoring the situation.

At least two people were pulled from the wreckage. And here's a possible reason for the collapse:
According to city records, the company building the Azure is the Leon D. DeMatteis Construction Corporation of Elmont, on Long Island. A call to the sales office of 1765 First Associates L.L.C., a subsidiary of DeMatteis, was not immediately returned.

Joe Quinn, 25, a member of a lathers union, had started work at 7 a.m. as part of a crew of about 25 workers on the roof of the building when the accident occurred. The turntable, which was attaching the crane to the tower, “came right off,” Mr. Quinn said in an interview “Boom. There was no weight on it. It boomed up, then just boom! There was no load on it. It wasn’t hooked up to anything. The disk came off where it attaches to the tower.”

After the crane fell, “I ran like hell,” Mr. Quinn said. He used ladders and stairs to get down from the roof.

Bolivar Quiroz, 56, a construction worker who was standing and 92nd Street and First Avenue, said it sounded “like a bomb was crashing.” “We were standing outside working, and we ran outside because we heard the noise,” he said. He and his colleagues looked toward where the crash occurred. “I saw, at the fourth or fifth floor, a support, but they’re supposed to have another support just above that and they didn’t. We looked and the crane was wavering back and forth.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in a previously scheduled on-air interview on WOR-AM, said, “We’re not going to tolerate any rate of accidents any higher than it has to be.” He did not appear to have been fully briefed on the details of this morning’s accident.
The Post is reporting two dead in this latest crane collapse and another person is critically injured.

Photos from the scene of the collapse, via the NY Post.

Live coverage is at MyFoxNY. The building under construction, known as Azure, has been subject to 26 violations by the Buildings Department. It's not clear how many of those violations are related to the crane that collapsed. Nearby residents had complained about the crane though.

There are multiple street closures through the area: 1st Ave between E 86th St and E 94th ST; 91st St is closed from York Ave to 2d Ave. Diversions for the M15, M31, and M86 buses. No subways are affected.

Some conflicting reports over the number killed, but at least one person is definitely dead as a result of this collapse - the crane operator. The crane was jumped over the weekend, and a DOB inspector was on hand to watch the process. Meanwhile, Curbed notes that for the DOB, their day got only a little worse. Curbed also notes that some of the DOB violations were directly related to the crane.

Mrs. Lawhawk had pointed this out - the DOB had only recently decided to lift some of its more rigorous inspections resulting from the March collapse - two days ago:
On Wednesday, the department issued a report saying its inspectors attended 51 crane jumps between March 25 and May 16. It described 49 of the jumps as successful and said its inspectors found serious safety violations at two others.

Kate Lindquist, a spokeswoman for the Buildings Department, said that in the context of the new regulations the spot inspections “will best direct the department’s crane inspectors toward cracking down on the bad actors that do not follow the rules.”

In the future, the department said, inspectors will “conduct random, unannounced site visits to verify that required safety precautions and requirements are followed.”

Revisions to the new regulations were announced on Wednesday. Modifications included a new section on training, requiring jumping crews to “have practical experience” with the type of crane on which they will be working. The new section also called for the crews to have “relevant training,” but it did not specify how many hours of training or what type.
It should be noted that the jump over the weekend was done with the inspector present.

Here's more information about one of the two people killed in today's accident. He's a Staten Island resident and was two weeks away from being married.

It appears that the investigation will likely focus on the turntable bolts and welds in that area. The turntable is the portion of the crane that allows it to pivot around on its axis. The crane model is no longer in production and is only one of four being used in the city.

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