Construction workers and students narrowly "dodged death" when a crane erupted into flames and collapsed in Sydney, Australia, reports the Sunday Morning Herald (SMH).

Video taken by shocked passers-by show flames billowing from the main cabin before the jib gives way and crashes through the roof of a building in the city's University of Technology.

According to the Guardian, the crane operator managed to escape unhurt. Nobody else was injured.

The building site where the crane stood was inspected two weeks ago. The crane was closed for four days after concerns that diesel was leaking from the cabin, a union official, Brian Parker, told the SMH.

He said: "If this crane was pointed out on the street and it caught fire there could have been hundreds of innocent bystanders killed here today."

The company that owns the crane, Lend Lease, also own the crane that collapsed in New York during Superstorm Sandy.