A man was seriously injured and three others trapped 45 metres in the air for seven hours when a crane collapsed on top of a hotel in Croydon yesterday.

Men working on the crane were heard screaming as the jib of the contraption crashed on to the roof of the Croydon Park Hotel on Altyre Road just after 2pm.

The crane operator - trapped in the cab hanging from the side of the building - was soon winched to safety by a rescuer suspended by cables from a second crane.

But three others were stuck in the tower of the crane until about 9.20pm when they were rescued by fire crews.

The seriously injured man is in a stable condition in St George's Hospital, Tooting, and the other men were uninjured.

Following the accident, 140 people were evacuated from the hotel and surrounding buildings while more than 50 fire fighters, six fire engines and four fire rescue units attended the scene.

Residents in the area reported hearing a crash "as loud as a bomb" and saw a cloud of dust and debris cover the surrounding streets.

Angela Ferrara, who lives opposite the scene, said: "I was doing some work when I heard this huge crash. The arm of the crane has completely come off and there's metal and debris everywhere.

"I can see that there are three people on top of the crane who cannot get down. There could also be a fourth person in the cab.

"One side of the hotel has been smashed in. I'm not sure about the guests - I've just spoken to an American man who checked into the room below just moments before it happened and he is ok."

No one at the hotel is thought to have been injured and guests have since been allowed back to collect their luggage although the hotel remains closed.

It is thought guests have been transferred to the nearby Fairfield Hotel.

The crane was believed to have been used for the Altitude25 housing development, being built next to the hotel.

Barclay and Fairfield Roads were closed off and while traffic was redirected around the incident via Park Hill Road.