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7 hurt when construction crane tumbles in New York City

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:54 p.m.
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NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 09: People gather in front of a construction crane after it collapsed on January 9, 2013 in the Queens borough of New York City. The crane collapse injured seven construction workers on the site in the Long Island City neighborhood. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — With the popping of cables and the snapping of metal, a 200-foot crane collapsed onto a building under construction near the East River waterfront on Wednesday, injuring seven people, three of whom needed to be extricated from underneath the fallen machinery.

The red crane toppled about 2:30 p.m., sprawling across the metal scaffolding and wood planking that made up the first floor skeleton of a residential building in the New York City borough of Queens behind a big neon “Pepsi Cola” sign, a local landmark. Workers putting up the second floor framework scrambled to get out of the way.

“Once that snap came, that was it,” said Russell Roberson, 32, of Brooklyn. “I just heard guys yelling, ‘Run, run!”

The people who had to be extricated from underneath the crane suffered a range of injuries, broken bones being the most severe, Deputy Fire Chief Mark Ferran said. He said emergency services personnel didn't need heavy machinery to get them out. None of the injuries was life-threatening.

Tony Sclafani, a spokesman for the city's Department of Building, said their engineers are investigating the cause of the collapse.

Construction cranes have been a source of safety worries in the city since two giant rigs collapsed within two months of each other in Manhattan in 2008, killing nine people.

Those accidents spurred the resignation of the city's buildings commissioner and fueled new safety measures .

A crane fell and killed a worker in April at a construction site for a new subway line.

During Superstorm Sandy in late October, a construction crane atop a $1.5 billion luxury high-rise in midtown Manhattan collapsed in high winds and dangled precariously for several days until it could be tethered.

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