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Florida Crane Collapse Kills Two

MIAMI -- A 20-foot-long chunk of construction crane plummeted 30 floors at the site of a high-rise condominium yesterday in Miami, killing two workers and smashing into a home that the contractor used for storage, police said.

Five other workers were injured, one critically, at the site of the 40-plus-story luxury condo tower on Biscayne Bay.

The part that fell was a section workers had been raising to extend the equipment's reach, Miami fire spokesman Ignatius Carroll said. The crane's main vertical section was intact.

The section smashed through the Spanish-tiled roof of the two-story home, which police spokesman Delrish Moss said had been used in the 1998 comedy "There's Something About Mary." Emergency workers and dogs found no evidence of trapped victims, but fire officials said rescue efforts were hampered because the crane section remained unstable. Rescue workers were trying to secure a severely damaged wall before re-entering the house.

David Martinez, 31, a pipe fitter, was on the fourth floor of the condo tower eating lunch when the crash occurred.

"It was like a small earthquake," he said. "We looked outside, and we couldn't even see." It took several minutes for the dust to clear, Martinez said.

One of those killed died in the house, and the other died at a hospital, Moss said.

Mary Costello, a senior vice president for Bovis Lend Lease Holdings Inc., which was managing the construction, said the accident occurred when a subcontractor tried to raise the crane section and it came loose.

The company is cooperating with investigators, she said.

"Our hearts are heavy at this moment for the two deceased individuals ... and the additional injured workers," she said in a statement.

The subcontractor, Morrow Equipment Co., and the tower developer, Royal Palms Communities, did not return phone messages seeking comment.

The U.S. Office of Safety and Health Administration had two investigators at the site.

The state of Florida does not license or regulate tower cranes or crane operators, but bills moving through both houses of the legislature would change that.

Yesterday's accident came 10 days after a 20-story crane toppled at a Manhattan construction site, killing seven people.

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