Winds from hurricane Sandy have seriously damaged a building in Manhattan as the centre of the storm heads towards land.

Part of the facade of a four story building in the West Village collapsed at about 6.30pm, leaving rooms open to the elements but no one injured.

Elsewhere parts of midtown Manhattan were evacuated when a crane on top of a skyscraper partially collapsed.

The Fire Department of New York initially reported a "multi-dwelling building collapse" on Twitter, although pictures quickly emerged showing that the front wall of the top two floors of the building was missing, rather than the entire structure collapsing.

Images showed a fire truck at the scene, with a writer from the Huffington Post reporting that firefighters had to enter the building to help people out.

The fire department later said that no one had been hurt. "There are no injuries or people trapped at 92 8th Ave building collapse, which involved the facade of the structure," it said in a tweet.

"Firefighters went in and rescued the residents. Some residents said same thing happened to same building 20 years ago," said Meg Robertson, a reporter at HuffPost Live. She posted several pictures of the scene on her Twitter account.

The building, 92 8th Avenue, is located between 14th and 15th streets in Manhattan. The main threat to buildings in New York City had been expected to come from flooding, with a mandatory evacuation order in place in many places along Manhattan's coastline.

Earlier a crane on top of the One 57 building, which is under construction on west 57th street further north in Manhattan, appeared to come loose from its bearings in high winds.

Pictures showed the crane hanging upside down from the top of the building, which is set to be luxury flats. Police and the fire department evacuated all buildings north and south of 57th street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues, CNN reported.

The Le Parker Meridien hotel on West 56th Street was also evacuated, according to reports, with guests being transferred to a different hotel.

In New York bridges across the East River have been closed, including the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges, with people warned to stay inside.

Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening. The system was downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm just after 7pm but was still expected to cause widespread damage.

Some 2.2m people around north east America were without power at about 7.30pm as the storm affected 12 states. © Guardian News and Media 2012

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