Published: Mon, September 11, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Hurricane Irma knocks down crane arm in Miami

Hurricane Irma knocks down crane arm in Miami

A crane has reportedly cracked in downtown Miami as Hurricane Irma moves through the city.

Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm, had maximum sustained winds of 180 miles per hour as of 5 a.m. this morning as it moved away from the northern coast of Puerto Rico and over the Dominican Republic and Haiti. There are about 20 to 25 construction cranes in the city, according to city officials. It's located across from the Federal Prison.

Officials urged people in buildings facing the crane to seek shelter on the opposite side of the building or in a stairwell.

A crane's arm is not tied down but remains loose, the deputy director of the Building Department, Maurice Pons, had said.

It's not known what caused the crane to topple, but on Wednesday, following a press conference, City Manager Daniel Alfonso said there's not much the city or the contractors involved in the projects could have done ahead of the hurricane in terms of taking the cranes down.

The city fire department says they're aware, and trying to warn residents to stay away from the area, but it's now too unsafe for first responders to assess the situation.

Dan Whiteman, vice chairman Coastal Construction, said he has 12 cranes in the Miami area.

The major exception, Whiteman said, is if a tornado forms, which "virtually nothing" would be able to withstand.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has announced evacuation orders for downtown Miami and other parts of the city, plus southern parts of the county.

The cranes are evidence of a real estate boom that has doubled the greater downtown Miami population to 88,540 since 2000.

Andy Castaldi, head of catastrophe perils at the reinsurance company Swiss Re, said the cranes added a terrifying element to the hurricane hazards that Miami potentially faces, including airborne debris and flooding exacerbated by rising sea levels.

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