Firefighters after a construction accident on Tuesday afternoon at 2929 Brighton Fifth Street in Brighton Beach, where a condominium building is being erected.
Firefighters pull a worker from the collapsed building
Firefighters frantically dug through the debris of a five-story apartment building in Brooklyn that collapsed during construction on Tuesday, rescuing five workers from shards of corrugated metal that fell under the weight of freshly poured concrete. One of those workers later died, the Fire Department said.
Three other workers were in stable condition at Lutheran Medical Center, Deputy Chief Michael Marrone of the Fire Department said, and the fifth, who had been working outside the building, declined treatment.
Just before 2:30 p.m., the building — designed with 14 condominium units at 2929 Brighton Fifth Street near Neptune Avenue in Brighton Beach — collapsed with a thundering metal shriek that could be heard for blocks.
“The slabs just came buckling down,” said Robert Approbato, 53, a concrete worker who saw the accident from atop the ladder on his concrete-pouring truck.
He said he had “seen it come down on top of them.” Seconds later, Mr. Approbato heard the workers yelling and screaming.
Dennis Lenberski, 18, who lives nearby, said he could hear pieces of the structure falling from several blocks away. “It was like two metal pieces breaking, then a crash,” he said. “It was like a car accident.”
Robert LiMandri, commissioner of the Buildings Department, said workers were following an improper practice to pour the concrete — starting from the top floors and going down, instead of starting at the bottom, which is considered safer.
“They were pouring concrete in the wrong sequence, and we believe that that is a major contributor to this collapse today,” he said at a briefing on Tuesday night.
Mr. LiMandri said that a neighbor called to complain on Saturday about after-hours work and that the department did not immediately follow up on the complaint.
He said that what happened on Saturday and on Tuesday were “not connected,” and that investigators would sort through the accident site piece by piece to determine the cause.
“We expect to take some action against some of the parties when we know exactly what happened,” he said.
On Tuesday night, the department said that a stop-work order had been placed on the site.
Earlier Tuesday, the property’s owner, Semyon Ruvinsky of R.S. Condo L.L.C., said construction began in July, he was unaware of any complaints and he did not know the cause of the collapse.
A person who answered the phone at the office of the contractor, S P & K Construction, declined to comment.
Even after the firefighters had removed the trapped workers, a large piece of corrugated metal hung in front of the building.
One neighbor, Candace Echeavarria, 27, watched firefighters carry out a stretcher with one of the workers on it.
“He wasn’t dead, thank God,” she said. “He lifted his head up.”