Dozens of private school students were gathered for a class photo atop a grate when it gave way Friday, sending them plummeting 12 feet to the concrete below and injuring 34, fire officials said.
All but five of the students at the Yeshiva Shaare Torah in Brooklyn were taken to hospitals. One girl suffered serious bone fractures, fire department officials said. The other injuries were minor.
"A lot of girls fell on top of me but I just like crawled under them and climbed up out of there," said Michelle Massre, one of the students who fell.
The girls, ages 10 to 14, were lined up for an end-of-the-year photo in front of the building and were standing on a sidewalk window well grate when it gave way. Emergency crews went through basement windows to reach the injured students, who fell among metal pipes, the FDNY said. A temporary fence was set up around the area until the grate could be repaired.
"It was chaos, everybody was crying, scared, but everybody was OK in the end," said Ari Clar, an EMS worker who responded to the scene.
The Buildings Department said the bolts attached to the grate were worn, causing the accident, and said crews were investigating.
The school was issued a violation for failing to maintain the structure and may be fined, but it wasn't immediately clear how much. School officials declined to comment.
The school is ultra-Orthodox Jewish with about 260 students in grades one through eight.
Aerial pictures showed an active scene full of emergency vehicles and kids on stretchers shortly after 11a .m.