Video: Spinning crane sends chunks of debris falling onto NYC streets

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- A full stop work order has been issued for an under-construction Midtown Manhattan high-rise after a spinning crane sent large chunks of debris falling to the street below during stormy weather Thursday night.

Video showed the top of the crane revolving in a full circle in rainy weather at the building, which has topped out at over 1,400 feet, on West 57th Street in Manhattan.

"The lifting ball was swinging and hit (a) glass facade, knocking out large sections of aluminum, sections of glass on several floors," the order from the Department of Buildings read.

Sixth Avenue remains closed between 56th and 58th streets Friday, as does 57th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, as the investigation continues.

"Our technical engineers are back on scene today, working to determine exactly how this incident occurred, and who is responsible for this serious safety lapse," the DOB said in a statement. "New York City has the strongest crane regulation in the country in place to protect the public, and an incident like this is unacceptable. We have stopped all work at the project, except operations to secure the site and make it safe."

The incident was reported at the 84-story high-rise condo around 7 p.m.

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"We just heard this enormous crash," restaurant owner Tove Nord said. "It kind of sounded like an explosion actually."

Nord's restaurant is a block and a half away, and she was weatherizing her outdoor platform when the earth shook.

"Maybe a 20-foot-long piece of railing and glass, looked like an enormous window, came out of nowhere," Nord said. "It kind of windmilled down and split off in one section, one crossways and one lengthways."
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Josh Einiger has the alarming details when large debris fell to the street from a spinning crane in Midtown, Manhattan.

Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

FDNY officials say a responding crew made their way to upper floors of the building, where they could see a cable hanging from a tower crane that was swinging around in the wind and hitting into the building.

"We're talking about pieces of metal and glass," FDNY Assistant Chief John Hodgens said. "Pretty amazing that there are no injuries."

The Department of Buildings say the crane did not collapse and was not unstable, despite earlier reports.

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Firefighters worked with the construction company and the buildings department to get a crane operator, who secured the crane.

The FDNY says the crane is being evaluated.

Videos of the crane show that it was spinning, and the DOB says this is what is known as "weathervaning" and is a normal crane function.

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 reduces wind resistance and increases the stability of the crane.

Lee Goldberg detailed how strong winds caused by remnants of Hurricane Zeta could have contributed to the crane spinning:
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Lee Goldberg details how gusty winds led to a crane spinning out of control in Manhattan.

The condo tower is on what is referred to as "Billionaires Row," and apartments in the building go for more than $30 million.

It was eight years ago on the same block in Midtown during Superstorm Sandy when parts of a crane came tumbling down from 70 floors up on a construction site. Fortunately, no one was injured in that incident either.

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