ABU DHABI // A mobile crane collapsed onto a building on Sunday morning, shattering windows and waking residents in the surrounding area.
The crane, which belonged to Suwadi and Shams Contracting company, fell shortly before 9am near the junction of Sheikh Zayed and Hamdan streets, the same location where a mobile crane collapsed over a street in 2011.
Mohammed Salem, head of the communications department of Suwadi and Shams Contracting said although his company was still awaiting the outcome of the Abu Dhabi Police investigation, the accident was something that could happen to any company and was not completely out of the norm.
“We were sleeping and suddenly there was a big sound and the whole building shook,” said Nilima, who felt the effect from her apartment on the third floor of the affected building.
“The kids started crying and I was so scared. We have been gathered together since but I feel so lucky,” said the Indian who has lived in the building for over a year with her husband and two children aged two and five.
As well as damaging the adjacent building, the crane also crushed an office trailer on the nearby building site and fell onto a pedestrian path between the site and the building it collapsed into.
“It was unbelievable no pedestrians were hurt,” said Koshori Sheddy, a restaurant employee who was working in a storage facility on the ground floor of the same building.
“A lot of people use this pathway and on Friday we have a lot of traffic coming through it,” said Mr Sheddy who has worked near the site for six months.
Labourers, who have been working on the site for two weeks, said no workers were injured and that the engineers were fortunate they arrived to work late and were not in the office trailers.
The effect of the crane’s fall was so loud it was heard in a building across the street.
Precilla Goosen said she had grown accustomed to the sounds of construction but heard something markedly different on Sunday morning.
“I knew instantly something had happened when I heard the noise,” said the South African freelance photographer.
When she rushed to the balcony of the her 12th floor apartment facing the construction site Ms Goosen could see the crane had toppled.
“It seemed like the crane was top heavy and facing the wrong way,” said Ms Goosen who has worked as head of safety and security for a hotel group in South Africa in the past.
“Occupational safety is very important, especially when working in such a cramped site such as this one,” she said.
Abu Dhabi Municipality investigations showed safety violations, including defective equipment and inadequate supervision, were to blame for the 2011 crane collapse in same area.
Although all construction or demolition site accidents must be reported to Abu Dhabi Municipality’s health, safety and environment department, the department’s head, Abdulaziz Zurub, said they had not yet received notification of Sunday’s incident by 5pm.
“Although these accidents rarely happen sometimes the negligence and inexperience of mobile crane operators can lead to an unbalanced crane,” he said.
Safeguards against crane accidents have been implemented since the 2011 incident which include regulations on lifting equipment inspections conducted by third parties, municipal regulations requiring all equipment operators receive some qualification training, and daily inspections of building sites by municipal workers.
“We are constantly monitoring building sites as well as reviewing the third parties inspecting them. We now have a total of 33 companies after removing 6 from the list which did not meet our standards,” said Mr Zurub.