At least five workers were hospitalized Wednesday after a crane carrying a heavy load of rebar at a Miami construction site suddenly malfunctioned and fell toward the ground, causing the steel bars to impale two of the workers, according to multiple reports.
Emergency crews were able to free the trapped workers by using large tools to cut through the steel. The injured workers were transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center and were listed in critical condition.
“Something malfunctioned and it came loose,” Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Pete Sanchez told the Miami Herald. “The two trapped under the rubble were impaled by rebar in their upper body. We cut them out.”
At least three other workers were able to free themselves. Another was removed from the pile of rebar following the arrival of Miami Fire Rescue, which initially called the incident a “partial building collapse,” Miami FOX affiliate WSVN-TV reported. No injuries were reported on the ground outside the construction site, authorities said.
The accident occurred around noon at an office tower project in the area of Brickell Plaza, which was under construction and is set to become the second tallest building in Miami-Dade County, according to the Herald. The development, titled 830 Brickell, is situated in the heart of the city’s downtown.
Cellphone videos reportedly showed the construction workers attempting to free their coworkers from the rebar, as others screamed in panic.
“The sound was extremely loud. I felt it all the way up on the 15th floor where I live,” resident Fabio Lopes told Miami’s WSVN.
The project is a joint venture between the British construction firm Ant Yapi and Miami Beach’s Civic Construction, according to the city of Miami’s building department. Its developer was the OKO Group LLC.
Civic Construction later released a statement saying five of its workers had been injured and were all “conscious” at the hospital. The company said a sixth employee was treated at the scene and released, according to the Herald.
“They are reported to be stable and receiving care for their injuries. The safety of our workers and contractors is always our highest priority and we are cooperating with the [city of Miami] building department and OSHA in an internal investigation to determine the cause of today’s incident and to prevent it from occurring again,” the statement said.
Rebar — short for reinforcing bar — are long steel bars used as a tension device to reinforce concrete.