1 construction worker dead, 1 hurt in Manhattan wall collapse

LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- One construction worker died and another was injured after they were pulled from the rubble of a wall collapse at Manhattan site Monday morning.

The victims were working on a mixed-use development at 60 Norfolk Street on the Lower East Side when the wall fell just after 10 a.m.

They were rushed to a nearby hospital, where one of the victims was pronounced dead. The other is listed in serious condition.

"They were on the surface, not totally buried," FDNY Assistant Chief Michael Ajello said. "It was within five or 10 minutes that they were extricated and removed from the scene."

Witnesses described it as a slow motion fall. In fact, some people thought it was a deliberate demolition job.

"We didn't know that there were people under there, I mean, we were just talking like, 'Wow, can you see that?" witness Robert Kaljaj said. "And one big piece just (went down) and then landed. Clean, like a clean shot."

But when they heard cries for help, it became clear this was not intentional.

"We thought that this was planned, because we saw the backloader kind of moving back and forth," Kaljaj said

Other witnesses said that just prior to the wall collapse, the two workers were standing on top if it about 6 to 8 feet up.

"They were standing on a windowsill, an old windowsill, as the machine was working," witness Tommy Daddio said. "Loud. It was loud. Just quiet...the other guy was just moaning, moaning and rolling around. He was banged up pretty good, bleeding out of his nose."

The development is on the site of a fire that burned through a synagogue in May 2017.

It will eventually include a 30-story tower on Suffolk Street and a 16-story building on Norfolk Street, as well as a new synagogue that incorporates the burned out structure.

Inspectors from the Department of Buildings are at the construction site.

"DOB experts in structural engineering and emergency response are on scene conducting an aggressive investigation of this tragedy," the DOB said in a statement. "Every worker who leaves for the job site in the morning deserves to come home safely at night. We will provide updates as our investigation progresses."

The preliminary investigation determined no imminent danger of further collapse, although structural stability inspections are still ongoing.

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