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High Winds Prevent Crews from Securing 57th St. Crane

By  Alan Neuhauser Jill Colvin and Aidan Gardiner | October 30, 2012 10:23am 

MIDTOWN — Even after the worst of Hurricane Sandy passed the city by Tuesday morning, strong winds prevented officials from securing a crane dangling precariously from the roof of a high-rise set to become 90-story luxury condominium on West 57th Street, the FDNY said at the scene.

The crane, atop developer Extell Development Company's ONE57 building, collapsed Monday afternoon, prompting evacuations from other surrounding buildings. Officials feared that the crane could plummet to the street when the storm intensified as it made landfall.

The crane survived the night, but responders still couldn’t secure it due to high winds.

“It’s nasty up there,” said a fire official on the scene, who spoke to a firefighter who inspected the crane earlier. “If they can get the wind below 35 miles-per-hour, they’ll probably discuss doing something.”

The cause of the collapse remains unclear.

“Nobody really knows,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters Monday. “The main tower seems to be well-secured to the building. The only part that is in danger of falling, we think, is the boom."

Everyone in buildings on 57th street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues and all exposed buildings on 56th in the same area were been evacuated and relocated to various city hotels.

Steam, gas, and water was shut down in the area to prevent an explosion should the boom fall.

“If that crane fell into the street and punctured a high-pressure steam line, we would've had to evacuate five blocks," a fire official on scene said Tuesday.

The crane was last inspected on Friday, Oct. 26, along with all other city cranes, and it was found to be secure.

"There's no reason, at this point in time, to think that the inspection wasn't adequate,” Bloomberg said. "Just because it's inspected, that doesn't guarantee that God doesn't do thing or that metal doesn't fail.”

The building is set to be completed in 2013. The bottom 39 floors are slated to be a high-end hotel, and the top reserved for luxury condos with a starting price of $6.375 million.

With much in the city still shut down Tuesday, many flocked to the scene to gawk at the crippled crane swaying in the violent gusts of winds.

Ilse Steiner, a dentist from Australia, walked from her hotel in Times Square just to see the crane.

"There are not many other possibilities to go sightseeing because the tube and buses are closed,” Steiner said. “We're walking around and hoping they will open other things."

Philippe Garinas, who also visited the scene, was buying coffee about 40 yards away when the crane collapsed.

“I heard a big noise, a very deep sound, like something was being crushed. Then I saw parts falling on the ground, metal and wood,” Garinas said as he snapped photos of the wreckage Tuesday morning. “A woman was in the [Le Parker] Meridien [hotel] yelling, 'Get out! Get out! Get inside.’”