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Crane left dangling from partly built Manhattan tower

Police have evacuated the upper floors of buildings near a luxury high-rise on West 57th St. in New York City as damaged crane dangled precariously from what is slated to be Manhattan's tallest residential tower. NBC's Rehema Ellis reports.

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET: Crews responded Monday to a crane hanging from the side of a luxury high-rise under construction in the heart of midtown Manhattan as New York began feeling the effects of approaching Superstorm Sandy.

Police have shut down traffic and evacuated the upper floors of buildings in the area around the building on West 57th Street, although there were no immediate plans to remove the crane because of the danger, WNBC reported. Officials were studying the situation and trying to decide how to deal with it.

The building, known as One 57, will be Manhattan's tallest residential tower when completed, at 90 stories. It already has gained a reputation as a new haven for billionaires who have been paying up to $90 million for choice apartments.

Passers-by stared in amazement and apprehension while some stopped to take pictures of the building.

"It's fascinating, I saw it on TV and came out to see it," Sam O' Keeffe, 25, a bartender who lives in the neighborhood, told Reuters. "But it's also scary. If it happened there, who knows where else it could happen?"

Firefighters closed streets for several blocks surrounding the site, evacuated 300 apartments in three buildings and were preparing to evacuate more.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the crane had been inspected on Friday, as other construction cranes had ahead of the storm, and that the cause of the accident remained unknown. Engineers went to the top of the building to examine the crane but stopped short of attempting any repairs, officials said.

"It's conceivable that nobody did anything wrong whatsoever and it wasn't even a malfunction, it was just a strange gust of wind," Bloomberg told a news conference.

"Just because it was inspected, that doesn't mean that God doesn't do things or that metal doesn't fail. There's no reason to think at this point in time that the inspection wasn't adequate," he said.

The crane swayed at the top of the building as the city was largely shut down ahead of the expected arrival of the massive hurricane slamming the East Coast and affecting up to 60 million people in nine states. The storm made landfall in New Jersey Monday evening.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Watch live: NBC camera shows crane boom dangling