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Building collapses in New York

A vacant five-story building collapsed at a lower Manhattan construction site this morning, but there appeared to be no injuries.

Emergency crews with a dog were sifting through the building's rubble and were going through a neighbouring building as a precaution.

Lewis Largent, who lives directly across the street, was looking out the window at 6.15am when "the bricks started trickling off the top corner. I was thinking was it raining or something. Then within 10 seconds it just all came down like a wave or an avalanche."

Inspectors with the Buildings Department were at the scene, about seven blocks north of the World Trade Centre site.

It appeared the front half of the building was sheared off in the collapse, and interior floors were visible from the street. Mounds of bricks were on the ground, and pieces of wood were hanging from what remained of the structure. A car on the street was covered in rubble.

The collapse occurred before the normally busy flow of pedestrians and traffic. The neighbourhood is part of an officially designated historic district in the Tribeca section of Manhattan.

A neighbourhood businessman said he was worried about a homeless man who often slept outside the building.

Kody Tokar, who owns an elevator company across the street, and others who work in the neighbourhood had joked in the past that they didn't want to park there.

"The building looked like it was going to fall for a while," Tokar said.

He said the building had been empty for several years. He said something was being built next door, and there was excavation work being carried out.