High winds as a result of the rapidly approaching Hurricane Sandy toppled a crane and tore the facade off a building in New York on Monday afternoon.
Neighbours of a nearly completed, 90-story luxury apartment building were evacuated after the top of the construction crane collapsed, prompting fears the structure's boom could crash to the ground.
With the city bracing for massive storm Sandy, which made landfall in southern New Jersey later on Monday, the crane's upper arm dangled over the street near Central Park.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the crane had been inspected on Friday, as other construction cranes had ahead of the storm, and that the cause of the accident remained unknown.
"It's conceivable that nobody did anything wrong whatsoever and it wasn't even a malfunction, it was just a strange gust of wind," Bloomberg told a news conference.
"Just because it was inspected, that doesn't mean that God doesn't do things or that metal doesn't fail. There's no reason to think at this point in time that the inspection wasn't adequate," he said.
Later in the evening, the facade of a four-story building near Greenwich Village also collapsed.