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COLLAPSE LOSSES MOUNT

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NEW YORK-Liberty Mutual Insurance Group has received more than 130 claims so far from businesses and residents affected by the scaffolding collapse at a building project in Times Square last week.

The claims filed with Liberty Mutual, the project's liability insurer, range from individuals made homeless by the accident to businesses seeking compensation after they were forced to close while the area was made safe.

While there were no firm estimates on how much the accident will cost businesses in the area, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said losses will be in the "millions and millions of dollars."

According to Peter Kohlmann, vp of marketing at the Times Square Business Improvement District, about 150 businesses were affected by the accident, including 65 businesses in an office block at 1500 Broadway; the Kit Kat Klub theater, where the Tony award-winning revival of "Cabaret" was playing; and the Millennium Hotel.

The accident happened July 21, when a temporary elevator tower, consisting of 20 stories of scaffolding, on the construction site at the Conde Nast building collapsed onto the street and surrounding buildings, killing one woman when a piece of debris broke through the roof of a residential hotel.

City officials evacuated several buildings, and much of the Times Square area was still closed late last week as a protective curtain was being placed around the Conde Nast building.

On Thursday last week Liberty Mutual; The Durst Organization, the building's developer; and Tishman Construction Corp., the projects construction manager; set up a $50,000 fund to provide assistance to individuals-not businesses-affected by the accident.

Mr. Giuliani almost immediately condemned the fund as "inadequate." However, the fund was meant only to provide funds for individuals in need of cash immediately after the accident, and by Friday, Liberty Mutual was paying claims to individuals under its normal claims paying process, a Liberty Mutual spokesman said.

Liberty Mutual last Thursday set up an 800 number for claimants to use and a walk-in claims center near the site.