Companies face probe after Seattle crane crash kills 4

Washington authorities have opened an investigation into four companies involved in the dismantling of a crane before it crashed killing four people in South Lake Union on Sunday, Seattle Times reports.

Four companies — GLY Construction, Northwest Tower Crane Service, Omega Morgan and Morrow Equipment –will be asked to explain what made the tower crane crash.

Two crane operators and two commuters, including a woman, were killed when the huge machine broke in half during the dismantling process and fell from the roof a building under construction into the traffic below, reports say.

Four others suffered minor injuries and two of them, a young woman and her four-month-old child, were discharged from a hospital after treatment.

The names of the four killed in the accident were not immediately revealed.

The incident happened around 3.30 pm when a construction crew involved in a project for a new Google campus, above, was dismantling the crane using smaller cranes near the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Mercer Street.

While it is not clear what caused the crash, the National Weather Service’s Seattle office said winds of up to 23 mph were blowing through the area at the time of the accident.

Esther Nelson, who witnessed the crash from a nearby building, told Seattle Times that it was windy and boats were bobbing on Lake Union.

Two other witnesses, Australian nationals Deyan Cashmere and his father Eric, told the Times that the crane was leaning dangerously while it was being dismantled.

After the crane broke, half of it came crashing down the side of the building while the other half fell across the traffic lanes in the street hitting at least six cars including an Audi.

Some of the commuters who survived the crash spoke of a jolt like an earthquake or thunder when the crane hit the ground. Many of them got out of vehicles and ran for their life.

The building under construction was damaged as a portion of the crane hit windows and pipes as it came hurtling down.

This is the first tower crane crash in over a decade in Seattle. In November 2006, another crane toppled in Bellevue killing a man and damaging three neighbouring buildings.

An investigation found a flaw in the design of the crane’s base.

While it is too early to comment on the cause of the latest crash, reports suggest that the dismantling of the huge machine could have been suspended amid high winds.