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Bloomberg says New York crane disasters are not related

By Steve Ritea

Newsday

NEW YORK — As the Manhattan District Attorney launches a criminal probe of the Friday crane collapse that killed two construction workers and seriously injured a third, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the incident appears unrelated to a March crane collapse that killed seven.

"It would appear that there is no connection whatsoever between the two accidents," Bloomberg said at a midtown hotel Sunday, after a speech to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. "They’re very different things."

That said, he confirmed investigations by the DA, Department of Buildings and by the city’s Department of Investigations.

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In the most recent incident, a tower crane on the Upper East Side snapped from its turntable some 200 feet above street level, causing its cab, boom and machine deck to fall south and crash into an apartment building across the street at 354 East 91st St., authorities said.

That comes two months after a March 15 incident on East 51st Street, in which a steel collar being installed around a crane fell, striking loose another collar below and crashing the crane into a building on which it was working and leveling a town house around the corner.

Seven people were killed in that incident, prompting stepped-up inspections and the resignation of Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster.

Officials received six complaints about the crane in the most recent incident, authorities said. No violations were ever issued, but there were two stop-work orders, the last lifted on April 26.

Still, based on an initial investigation, "it would appear that they had all permits in place and that they had been inspected just two days before," the mayor said Sunday.

Bloomberg said residents initially evacuated from nearby buildings have since returned and others who are able to return to their apartments in the building that was struck should be back by mid-week.

In the wake of the accident, all tower crane operations were suspended until Monday and four cranes similar to the one that collapsed Friday indefinitely had work suspended pending an investigation.

Two workers — Donald Leo, 30, and Ramadan Kurtaj, 27 — were killed in Friday’s accident and a third, Simeon Alexis, remained hospitalized Sunday in serious condition with a chest injury.

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