5:41pm UPDATE: Developer TF Cornerstone, which had been building a 26-story residential tower at the 46-10 Center Boulevard site, has issued a statement: “Site safety is always our first priority as it relates to construction, and we are cooperating fully with all relevant authorities to try and determine what caused this occurrence.”
4:42pm UPDATE: Three construction workers were trapped under the crane and had to be pulled out, said an FDNY deputy chief on the scene. The most seriously hurt suffered broken bones.
ORIGINAL STORY: A crane collapsed in Long Island City this afternoon on a construction site behind the landmark Pepsi-Cola sign, injuring up to seven construction workers.
The crane broke down just before 2:30pm at 46th Avenue and Center Boulevard, falling onto the site below, NBC News reported.
Randall Todd, who was walking his dogs nearby, told NBC he heard the sound of wrenching metal and saw “the top horizontal arm of the crane dropping, but it folded on itself, accordion-style, including the vertical tower, which seemed to snap in half.”
Three people were seriously injured, but are reportedly in stable condition. Two of the hurt construction workers were taken to New York-Presbyterian Cornell Hospital and the other five were taken to Elmhurst Medical Center, the New York Daily News reported.
Worker Preston White told NBC News that he was standing on scaffolding about 20 feet above the ground during the accident. The mobile crane had been moving a stack of wood when the cable snapped. He and his fellow workers on the platform saw the crane crumple and began “running for their lives,” he said.
The cause of the collapse has yet to be determined.
TF Cornerstone had been developing a 26-story luxury tower on the site as part of a 21-acre project known as East Coast. Some neighboring buildings are part of the project and have already been finished and occupied by residents. The rental planned for the site would be the fifth and biggest structure in East Coast, which will have 2,615 rental and 184 condominium units across seven buildings, The Real Deal reported.
No other buildings in the area sustained damages.
The work on-site was being performed by subcontractor Cross Country Construction, based in Elmsford, NY, according to TF Cornerstone Frank Marino.
The equipment was a Link-Belt 156-foot mobile crane leased to Cross Country Construction by New York Crane, and it was last approved for use on January 3rd by the city Department of Buildings, according to the New York Daily News.
New York Crane owner James Lomma was acquitted of criminally negligent homicide charges after a crane collapsed in the Upper East Side at 91st Street and First Avenue in May 2008, killing two construction workers. Prosecutors alleged that Lomma had used an unqualified Chinese company to repair the crane in order to save time and money. The defense said that the accident happened because the crane operator tried to lift a too-heavy load, not because of shoddy repairs on the equipment. Lomma’s former employee Tibor Varganyi pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide for his role in the collapse.
More photographs below, via Twitter: