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NEW YORK CITY-Five construction workers were killed and at least 20 injured yesterday when the brick façade of a Union Square-area office building collapsed. Scaffolding at the site fell when it was hit from above by the crumbling wall, sending five workers to their deaths. Dozens of others were trapped in the debris piled in the building’s rear courtyard.

Police and fire department sources say everyone trapped in the wreckage at 215 Park Avenue South was rescued. There are reports of 12 injuries to workers at the 20-story building, which is located at 17th Street near Union Square. Eight firefighters and three police officers were also hurt in the accident. All were sent to local hospitals for treatment.

“We have 14 stories worth of scaffolding that has collapsed and is compressed into roughly three stories. It’s very tight,” said fire dept. assistant chief Harold Meyers, who was at the scene of the collapse, which occurred yesterday at around 5 p.m. Police and fire department rescue crews were called up from the World Trade Center site to help find and pull out the trapped workers. Bloodhounds and heat-seeking devices were used to locate survivors. Officials asked the crowd that had gathered at the site for silence so that rescue workers could listen for voices in the rubble.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani and fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen were also at the scene. Von Essen said workers were making repairs to the building’s seventh-floor windows when the scaffolding fell. “We don’t know why it collapsed,” Von Essen said. “We’ll certainly have an investigation to figure that out.” As many as 19 workers were reportedly on the scaffolding when it fell.

The 300,000-sf building is owned by Dever Properties NV, Inc. and managed by S.L. Green Leasing, LLC. S.L Green, which also leases the property, is run by Stephen Green, brother of mayoral candidate Mark Green. Tenants includeGuardian Life Insurance Co., Beth Israel Medical Center and Houghton Mifflin Co.

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