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Irma's winds buckle two giant cranes in Miami
September 10, 2017 / 10:59 PM / 11 days ago

Irma's winds buckle two giant cranes in Miami

MIAMI, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Cranes atop two downtown Miami high rises under construction collapsed in the face of 100-mph (160-kph) winds as Hurricane Irma ripped through the Florida city on Sunday, days after authorities warned about dangers that the approaching storm.

Soon after one of the cranes collapsed, the chief executive of the company developing the building told Reuters he was attending the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York when the accident occurred and had just learned about it.

“This particular crane, some of it was taken down,” Jorge Perez, chief executive of The Related Group, Miami’s largest developer, said by telephone. “They were surprised that it went down because they felt it was one of the more secure cranes, so we’re right on it.”

A video posted on Twitter showed the crane’s boom dangling above the unfinished building.

No injuries were reported in either of the collapses, and investigations would begin after the storm cleared, officials said.

That collapse at the Related property came hours after heavy winds snapped the boom of another crane erected on top of a Miami apartment building under construction. The project was being developed by New York-based Property Markets Group, according to The Real Deal, a South Florida real estate news website.

After the collapse, the boom was partly dangling on the side of the building, attached to the crane tower by a cable, photos on Twitter showed. Attempts to reach Property Markets Group offices in New York and Miami were unsuccessful.

“There will have to be an investigation by the proper authorities to see if they were properly assembled,” City Manager Daniel Alfonso said.

The city had been in touch with Perez but the state of Florida and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had jurisdiction over the cranes, Alfonso said. No one was immediately available to comment at OSHA or the governor’s office.

Investigators would have to wait until Monday to start looking into the incidents, Alfonso said.

The National Weather Service recorded wind gusts in Miami reaching about 100 mph (160 kph) in the late morning and early afternoon, with sustained winds of 50 to 60 mph (80 to 96 kph), as Irma moved up Florida’s west coast.

As Irma approached last week, Miami officials said 20 to 25 construction cranes were up across the city and that they were designed to withstand winds of 145 mph (235 kph).

It warned that the cranes had to be unpinned, so that their horizontal booms could rotate on their support columns like a weather vane.

The city had advised against staying in a building next to a construction crane during a storm like Irma.

“The arm’s counterbalance is very heavy and poses a potential danger if the crane collapses,” the statement said. (Additional reporting by Ian Simpson; Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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