Deadly building collapse at site of future hotel in Manhattan

- One person was killed and another was seriously injured when a building partially collapsed in Midtown Manhattan Friday, according to FDNY officials. Dozens of firefighters and emergency personnel responded to the scene at 25 West 38th St. between 5th and 6th Avenues. The eight-story building was being demolished when the partial collapse occurred at about 10:30 a.m.

The worker was removed from beneath the rubble just before 2 p.m. and rushed to a local hospital. 19 workers were inside the building when the roof came crashing down.

According to buildings department records, the site is owned by Fortuna LLC. A woman who answered the phone at Fortuna Realty Group's office declined to comment and referred calls to Northeast Service Interiors, a demolition company doing work at the site, reported the Associated Press. Northeast said its owners were at the site and couldn't immediately respond to a telephone call.

According to Fortuna's website, it acquired the property in late 2012 and is planning a 27-story, 170-room luxury boutique hotel under Starwood's Aloft brand. In a statement, Starwood said it is not involved at all in the work site at this stage.

"We are very saddened to hear media reports of the accident and our thoughts are with the family of the worker who was reported to have lost his life and with workers who were injured," Starwood said in a statement. The company referred questions to Fortuna.

City Buildings Department records show a permit for full demolition of the existing building was issued in May. It appears some construction has been in the works since then -- permits have been issued for sprinkler systems, electrical work and other things.

"Tragedies like this have become all too common as irresponsible developers and contractors increasingly put their bottom lines ahead of the safety of workers," said Gary LaBarbera, president, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. "Construction can be a dangerous occupation and we demand action to ensure all workers receive the same worksite protections and rigorous training our union workers receive."

With the Associated Press

 

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