NEW YORK (AP) -- A giant crane toppled over at a construction site and smashed into a block of residential buildings Saturday, creating a horrifying scene of destruction on Manhattan's East Side.
The big, white crane, which looked to be at least 15 stories tall, demolished parts of several buildings as it fell. At least one small, brick apartment building appeared to have been completely pulverized by the falling wreckage.
Fire Department officials said at least two people were dead. A rescue operation was under way and it was unclear whether there were people trapped in the rubble.
The accident happened on 51st Street near 2nd Avenue at about 2:20 p.m. People in the area reported hearing a terrible roar as the structure detached from a large building under construction.
Ben Galati, a 54-year-old doorman a high-rise apartment building across the street, said he was in the basement when it happened, and ran for his life when he heard the noise.
"I heard a rumble outside. I said, 'Let's get out of here! And then the crane came down. A split second later, I heard an explosion," he said.
The crane split into pieces as it fell. Part of it came to rest against an apartment tower, buckling its facade and smashing it upper floors. That building and others in the area were evacuated. Another piece of the crane hit other buildings on the block, ripping away walls and ceilings and crushing a small building.
That's around the corner from my old office. What a horror.