Workers rescued from collapsed scaffolding on Hearst Tower in NYC

3:30 PM, Jun 12, 2013   |    comments
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Two window washers who were trapped on a collapsed scaffold high above the streets of Midtown Manhattan have been rescued.

The window washers were trapped near the 45th floor of the Hearst Tower at 57th Street and 8th Avenue.

The long, metallic scaffold appears to have buckled in the middle, creating a "V"-shape. The window washers were on either side of the site of the buckling. They had been resting comfortably and communicating with firefighters above.

Blurry footage showed three figures, believed to be the window washers and a firefighter, crossing from the scaffolding into an open window on the 44th of the building at around 4:15 p.m.

The window washers were wearing safety harnesses firefighters nearby at the top of the building, which is 46 stories tall. Firefighters stretched a safety line to at least one of the workers.

Two firefighters were seen lying on their stomachs at the top of the tower, observing the situation below as the rescue unfolded.

The FDNY has responded and is undertaking a "high angle rescue."

Firefighters are opening a window on the 44th floor to bring the workers to safety, the FDNY said via Twitter.

Wind gusts are a significant factor for effecting the rescue. Wind gusts were at least 25-30 mph at street level, CBS 2's Vanessa Murdock reported. Gusts at 46 stories are expected to be stronger.

The Hearst Building is famous for its unusual triangular framing pattern. The framing required a different type of window washing apparatus, manufactured by Tractel-Swingstage, according to a published report.

The apparatus is suspended by six wire ropes to the anchoring mechanism above, according to the report. The scaffolding is monitored by a series of dozens of sensors, according to the report.

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