Authorities are continuing to investigate a construction accident that sent a hail of bricks and concrete plummeting 35 stories from a Manhattan high-rise building facade to the sidewalk and streets below, where the debris remained, surrounded by caution tape, more than 12 hours later.
Officials said it appeared some type of accident related to repointing, which involves renewing the external part of mortar joints in masonry construction, caused the facade of the Upper East Side building on East 64th Street to crumble around 10 p.m. Monday. No injuries were reported.
According to the Department of Buildings website, all buildings higher than six stories need to have exterior walls inspected every five years. The repointing work being done at the site was to make recommended fixes as a result of that inspection, authorities said. The Department of Buildings is investigating whether the repointing work was done properly.
Quality Building Construction, which was doing the repointing work, told NBC 4 New York it is working with all agencies involved and cooperating fully in the investigation.
Prior to Monday, there had been no recent complaints on the facade for the listed address in the city's Buildings Department database. On Tuesday, a complaint was filed with Department of Buildings and the FDNY requested an inspection of the building.
First Avenue remained shut down between 60th and 65th streets Tuesday amid concerns additional sections of the same wall could come falling down. Netting around that part of the building will have to be completed before the street is reopened, authorities said.
Witnesses were shaken by Monday's accident.
"All of sudden it sounded like there was an incredible hailstorm," said Mark Kostabi. "I saw huge chunks of what I thought was hail, but then that didn't make sense. And huge noises."
Veronica Alcarese said, "The first brick hit the ground, all of a sudden there was some dust and smoke. It sounded like fireworks or gunshots, and the next thing I know, I saw four people running in all different directions."
Marilyn McClain, who was walking her dog when the bricks rained down, said she couldn't believe no one was killed.
"It was such a huge rumbling sound, and the dust filled everywhere. It was just smoke and mayhem, and I can't believe no one was killed," she said.