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Debris plunges from Midtown NYC skyscraper after unstable crane spins around in remnants of Hurricane Zeta winds

Debris plunges from Midtown NYC skyscraper after unstable crane spins around in remnants of Hurricane Zeta winds

Wild winds spun a construction crane at the top of an under-construction skyscraper in Midtown Thursday night as debris from the building landed a block away.

The crane, attached to an 85-story luxury apartment tower on W. 57th St. near Sixth Ave., ‘weathervaned’ — spun around in circles — and knocked debris to the ground just after 6:40 p.m., witnesses said.

Amid pouring rain and whipping wind caused by the remnants of Hurricane Zeta, the crane’s boom untethered, said witness Michael Illescash.

“Everybody was running, and when I looked up, the crane was spinning. It was spinning in circles and it was ripping off pieces of the building,” said Illescash, 29, a handyman who works at a nearby building on W. 56th St.

“Its hook was ripping off pieces of the building. All the pieces, big metal pieces, were coming down.”

He added, “It was hitting metal with sparks and everything. Every time it hit the metal, we had to run inside.”
Video posted to Twitter by TV personality Keith Olbermann showed the crane swinging around.
Olbermann also posted video that appeared to show the crane knocking debris from the building.

That the crane whirled around in the wind was not a problem, said Department of Buildings spokesman Andrew Rudansky.

“Videos of the crane show that is was spinning. This is called what is known as ‘weathervaning’ and is a normal crane function,” Rudansky said.

“Weathervaning is a standard configuration for tower cranes, which allows them to swing 360 degrees when not in use. This is done to allow the crane to sway in the direction of the wind, which in turn reduces wind resistance on increases the stability of the crane.”

Despite the damage — and two giant pieces of twisted metal that crashed down nearly a block away on Sixth Avenue — the Buildings Department does not see the calamity as an “unstable crane incident,” Rudansky said.

Rudansky said that whether the debris was knocked off the building by the crane would be part of the city’s investigation.

The article was published on nydailynews.com

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