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Giant crane bursts into flames, collapses on building in Australia

TODAY's Natalie Morales takes a look at video showing the biggest crane in Sydney, Australia, engulfed in flames then crashing down onto a nearby building. Thankfully, nobody was injured in the ordeal.

A 210-foot crane burst into flames and its arm then crashed onto a university building in Australia Tuesday as people fled.

Video footage showed flames engulfing the engine and cabin of the crane.

It was the second crane collapse involving multinational construction company Lend Lease. It currently is being sued by two dentists over the collapse of a crane on a 90-story luxury apartment building in New York City during superstorm Sandy.


The University of Technology Sydney said in a statement that the crane caught fire shortly before 10 a.m. local time (10 p.m. ET).

The university said no one was hurt with students and staff evacuating buildings in the affected areas. It added it was working with Lend Lease and the authorities "to assess the safety of the site and surrounding area."

Fire crews quickly withdrawn
Fire & Rescue NSW said in a statement that "a crane driver and a second worker in the cabin evacuated soon after firefighters arrived as the fire spread from the engine to engulf the cabin."

Fire crews were "quickly withdrawn when the fire started to destabilize the crane’s structural integrity and its fly boom [the crane arm] collapsed," the statement said.

About 200 people were evacuated from the area and a 0.6-mile exclusion zone was set up.

On Oct. 29, during superstorm Sandy, a crane operated by Lend Lease collapsed on the One57 building, which includes a number of expensive apartments and a number of businesses.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that two dentists with offices near the building had filed a lawsuit against Lend Lease and other companies involved, saying they had been forced to close as the area was evacuated.

Police have evacuated the upper floors of buildings near a luxury high-rise on West 57th St. in New York City as damaged crane dangled precariously from what is slated to be Manhattan's tallest residential tower. NBC's Rehema Ellis reports.

Crane left dangling from partly built Manhattan tower

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, said Lend Lease was negligent because it failed to make sure the crane was properly secured before the storm.

"The crane collapse and the ensuing week-long evacuation was a direct result of defendants' failure to prepare, maintain, operate, and secure the crane to withstand the winds of the widely anticipated Hurricane Sandy," the lawsuit said.

There was no response to calls placed with Lend Lease offices in London, U.K., and New York Tuesday.

The British trade magazine Building’s website (requires registration) quoted a Lend Lease spokesperson as saying the crane collapses in Sydney and New York were “completely unrelated.”

"No one has been injured as a result of the incident," the spokesperson said, referring to the Sydney collapse. "Lend Lease is working closely with emergency services and relevant authorities to manage the incident."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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