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Fiery crane collapse in Manhattan injures 12, officials say

Nine civilians and three firefighters had injuries after the top of the crane and a 16-ton load toppled over, the fire department said.
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A crane collapsed in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday morning, injuring 12 people, including three firefighters, the Fire Department of New York said.

Video on social media showed the top part of a crane collapse, hit a building across the street and then swing back to hit the building under construction as passersby sprinted from the scene.

Eight of the civilians' injuries were minor, and one was serious but non-life-threatening, the fire department said. One of the firefighters' injuries was minor and another was serious but non-life-threatening, it said. The condition of the third firefighter was not immediately available.

Three people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, the fire department said earlier Wednesday. It was unclear Wednesday afternoon how many people had been hospitalized; the number of victims had slowly ticked up throughout the day.

Two fire department sources said one firefighter was hurt by falling debris.

The crane collapsed shortly after a fire broke out in its engine, about 45 stories up, which was reported around 7:25 a.m., Deputy Fore Commissioner Joseph Pfeifer said. Video on social media showed part of the crane on fire atop the building as clouds of black smoke billowed above.

The crane operator unsuccessfully tried to extinguish the fire, "but the fire overwhelmed that operator," Pfeifer said, adding that "the crane operator was able to get out and is safe."

Firefighters heard the collapse as they were on the way to the scene, Pfeifer said. The top part of the crane, the boom and a 16-ton load were part of the crash, Pfeifer said.

A photo appears to show a tangle of metal from the crane and other debris littering the sidewalk and the street below, at 550 10th Ave. between West 41st and 42nd streets in Hell’s Kitchen.

Buildings in the area were evacuated, Pfeifer said.

Eldrege Smith, who lives in the building that was struck, at 555 10th Ave., told NBC New York that “I felt the building really tremor.”

Smith described his residence as being "mangled like Godzilla took it and crushed it in his hands.”

Another local resident, TT Maitisa, told the station it seemed like it "was another terrorist attack or something, because it was a loud bang."

"It sounded like a bomb, it was pretty scary," Maitisa said, who was waiting to be allowed back into the building.

An emergency alert the city issued shortly after 8:15 a.m. cautioned that people should "expect smoke, traffic delays, and a presence of emergency personnel and vehicles in the area."

Another alert, issued just after 8:45 a.m., characterized the blaze as a "five alarm fire." The alert included guidance from the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which advised "avoiding smoke exposure from structural fires by closing windows while indoors and reducing outdoor activity where smoke is present," particularly for people with heart or breathing conditions, like asthma.

The mayor's office also urged people to avoid the area in a tweet.

Mayor Eric Adams said the impact of the collapse "could have been much worse. We are extremely fortunate that we weren't during a busy time of the day."

Pfeifer echoed Adams' assessment. "This is a good morning — this could've been a lot worse," he said.

More than 200 firefighters and emergency medical personnel were at the scene, Pfeifer said. Officials were working to dismantle the crane and extinguish the fire, Adams said.

By 11:45 a.m., the fire was under control, the fire department tweeted.

The building under construction is intended to be 54-story mixed-use building, Buildings Commissioner James Oddo said.

All permits filed for the building and crane operation had been approved, Oddo said.

Speaking at a breakfast event for the construction industry, Gov. Kathy Hochul calling it "a reminder of the incredible challenges that the men and women who are building back our city face." Hochul said her office is monitoring the incident and working with the mayor's office.

The Department of Buildings will review the incident, Oddo said, adding that an independent assessment will also be conducted.

Representatives for the Department of Buildings and the fire department could not immediately be reached for comment.