Construction Worker Killed in Building Collapse in Manhattan

A construction worker was killed and two others were injured on Thursday morning in the collapse of a partly demolished two-story building in Upper Manhattan that was owned by Columbia University, the authorities said.

The building, at 604-606 West 131st Street, collapsed shortly before 8 a.m. The cause was unclear.

A city official said the site was part of Columbia University’s expansion project, which involves building a 17-acre satellite campus in West Harlem. A demolition permit on the Web site of the city’s Buildings Department said demolition was to have begun on March 7. The permit noted that the building had passed a predemolition inspection the day before.

The three workers, who were not immediately identified, were taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. One was in traumatic arrest, apparently as a result of being crushed by debris as the building gave way, the authorities said. That worker died at the hospital. Of the two others, one was in critical condition, the other in serious condition.

Willy Katende, 46, who lives on the 12th floor of the building across Broadway from the site, said he was pouring a glass of soda when, through his window, he saw a wall collapse. “All I saw was concrete falling down on the workers,” he said. “It just happened so fast.”

The Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer, demanded that the Buildings Department investigate what had set off the collapse. He said the department had posted a building code violation on March 5, “relating to a failure to safeguard all persons and property affected by demolition activities, and for demolition without a permit.”

“There was also a complaint today about vibrations and structural stability at the site,” Mr. Stringer said.

Al Baker and Randy Leonard contributed reporting.

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