March 26, 2008 in Nation/World

Miami crane collapse kills two

Matt Sedensky Associated Press
Associated Press photo

A section of a crane, center, is lifted from a house Tuesday in Miami. Two workers were killed and five others were injured Tuesday when the crane collapsed at a high-rise condominium site. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

MIAMI – A section of construction crane plummeted 30 floors at the site of a high-rise condominium Tuesday, killing two workers and smashing into a home that the contractor used for storage, police said.

Five other workers were injured, one critically, at the site of the 40-plus-story luxury condo tower on Biscayne Bay just days after a similar accident in New York killed seven people.

The part that fell was a 20-foot section workers had been raising to extend the equipment’s reach, Miami fire spokesman Ignatius Carroll said. The crane’s main vertical section was intact.

The section smashed through the Spanish-tiled roof of the two-story home, which police spokesman Delrish Moss said had been used in the 1998 comedy film “There’s Something About Mary.”

Emergency workers and dogs found no evidence of trapped victims, but fire officials said rescue efforts were hampered because the crane section remained unstable. Rescue workers were trying to secure a severely damaged wall before re-entering the house to check for anyone inside.

One of those killed died in the house, and the other died at a hospital, Moss said.

Mary Costello, a senior vice president for Bovis Lend Lease Holdings Inc., which was managing the construction, said the accident occurred when a subcontractor tried to raise the crane section and it came loose.

The subcontractor, Morrow Equipment Co., and the tower developer, Royal Palms Communities, did not return phone messages seeking comment.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration had two investigators at the site.

Darlene Fossum, an area director for the agency, said OSHA issued five violations against Morrow in a December 1999 incident in Florida, but those mostly involved problems with digging and not cranes. The Salem, Ore.-based company has faced 15 inspections nationwide.

Tuesday’s accident came 10 days after a 20-story crane toppled at a New York construction site, killing seven people. The crane demolished a four-story town house and damaged several other buildings.

New York City officials said Tuesday they have told contractors they can’t raise or lower large cranes at construction sites unless a building inspector is there.

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