Last Body Pulled from New York City Crane Collapse Wreckage, Bringing Death Toll to 7

A third body was recovered Monday from the rubble of a crane collapse in New York City, rescuers told FOX News, bringing the death toll from the accident to at least seven.

None of the victims have been identified, though two of them were believed to be two construction workers still missing. The other is believed to have been inside a town house that was demolished when the crane came crashing down. The accident injured dozens and damaged or destroyed six buildings.

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The four workers recovered Saturday from the accident scene were identified as Wayne Bleidner, 51, of Pelham; Brad Cohen, 54, of Farmingdale; Anthony Mazza, 39; and Aaron Stephens, 45, of New York City.

The search for victims resumed Monday after being halted Sunday afternoon to allow crews to remove the crane tower that was leaning against one of the damaged buildings on East 50th Street, a few blocks from the United Nations.

As of Monday, seven of the 10 pieces of the crane's mast had been removed and its attached boom was lowered to street level, the Office of Emergency Management said. Some of the parts will be sent to an NYPD laboratory for analysis.

Debris was being cleared "delicately and meticulously" to prevent further damage, said Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster, who joined the Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials at the scene on Sunday.

The crane rose 19 stories and was attached to an apartment tower under construction when it broke away Saturday and toppled like a tree onto buildings as far as a block away.

Twenty-four others were injured, including 11 first responders, Bloomberg said. Eight remained hospitalized, officials said.

The missing woman had come from Miami to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and to visit a friend who lived in the town house, said John LaGreco, owner of Fubar, a saloon on the ground floor of the town house. The woman was in her friend's second-floor apartment at the time of the accident, he said. Her friend was rescued, he said.

Officials were investigating whether human or mechanical error led to the construction-site accident, which the mayor described as among the city's worst.

Tenants in 17 buildings on 50th, 51st streets and Second Avenue were ordered to vacate their apartments. The crane collapse cut off gas, electric, and water service to some buildings.

City officials said the broken crane passed inspection Friday. At the time of the accident, the crane was being lengthened with a new section, a process known as "jumping," when it fell.

As crews were jumping the crane, a heavy-duty steel collar used to tie the crane to the building's side fell, a buildings department spokeswoman said.

When the steel collar fell, another collar on the ninth floor — a major anchor securing the crane to the building — was damaged, she said. Without the support at the ninth floor, the counterweights at the top of the crane's tower caused the entire crane to fall southward, the spokeswoman said.

The mayor and other city officials insisted that braces on the third and ninth floors appeared to have been adequate.

"This is adequate and appropriate for this kind of crane and this kind of height," the mayor said.

About 250 cranes operate in the city on any given day, and the accident shouldn't alarm New Yorkers living near high-rise construction sites, the mayor said. "This is a very tragic but also a very rare occurrence," he said.

But neighborhood residents and a Manhattan borough official raised concerns about city inspections at the apartment tower.

"I warned the Buildings Department on March 4 that it was not sufficiently braced against the building," said Bruce Silberblatt, a retired contractor and vice president of the Turtle Bay Neighborhood Association.

Retired ironworker Kerry Walker, who with his wife lived in the top-floor apartment of the four-story town house and left minutes before the collapse, had complained that the crane appeared dangerously unstable, his stepson said.

"He knows all about cranes and said this one had no braces, everything was too minimal," John Viscardi said. "He told one friend on the phone that 'if you don't hear from me, it's because the crane fell on my house."'

The city had answered 38 complaints and issued slightly more than a dozen violations in the past 27 months to the construction site where a 43-story high-rise condominium was going up. None of the violations was related to the crane, Bloomberg said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.