NEW YORK — A construction crane atop a $1.5 billion luxury high-rise in midtown Manhattan collapsed in high winds Monday and dangled precariously, prompting plans for engineers and inspectors to climb to the top to examine it as a huge storm bore down on the city.
Some buildings, including the Parker Meridien hotel, were being evacuated as a precaution and the streets below were cleared, but there were no immediate reports of injuries. City officials didn't have a number on how many people were told to leave.
Authorities received a call about the collapse at around 2 p.m. as conditions worsened from the approaching Hurricane Sandy. Meteorologists said winds atop the 74-story building could have been close to 95 mph at the time.
The nearly completed high-rise is known as One57 and is in one of the city's most desirable neighborhoods, near Carnegie Hall, Columbus Circle and Central Park. It had been inspected, along with other city cranes, on Friday and was found to be ready for the weather.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said later Monday it wasn't clear why the accident happened.
"It's conceivable that nobody did anything wrong and there was no malfunction, it was just a strange gust of wind," Bloomberg said.
Engineers and inspectors were planning to hike up 74 flights of stairs to examine the crane. The harrowing inspection was being undertaken by experts who are "the best of the best," city Buildings Department spokesman Tony Sclafani said.
The crane was owned by Bovis Lend Lease, one of the largest construction companies in the city. Bloomberg was careful not to blame the company, and said it would be days before officials figured out what happened.
A spokeswoman for Bovis Lend Lease said the company was working with city officials to secure the structure but the weather remained severe. There was no immediate response to a message left with the developer, Extell Development. Phone numbers for several people whose names appear on permits for the crane rang unanswered.