NEW YORK — Gale force winds from Hurricane Sandy on Monday buckled a crane on top of a 90-story New York apartment block which was left dangling as the storm intensified.
Police and fire services cleared streets and some other buildings around the high-rise, close to Central Park, which was designed by award-winning French architect Christian de Portzamparc.
A major hotel was among the buildings cleared.
No casualties were immediately reported, though some witnesses said parts of the crane had fallen into the street.
Gas and water pipes around the building were cut, and city engineers and fire department experts had climbed the building to assess the danger, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters.
"This is a preventive measure to mitigate the damage if the booms from the crane were to collapse and fall into the street," Bloomberg said.
"We just don't want to risk the lives of anybody trying to be a hero and secure it at the moment," the mayor said. "With the winds as they are, we just cannot secure it. The best we can do is take precautions."
Witnesses told the NY1 television news channel that the crane on the top of the One57 building had been swaying all morning as the winds from the storm increased.
Aviadav Benzikry told the channel that large pieces of metal fell from the crane into the street as it buckled backwards.
The 1,004-foot (306-meter) skyscraper, which is due to be finished next year, has some of the most expensive apartments in New York. One penthouse recently sold for more than $90 million, according to the New York Times.