The accident happened just before 4 p.m.at 31-25 28th Road in Astoria, fire officials said.
Fire officials say the building was undergoing renovation when material from a crane fell, injuring the workers. Two of the victims were removed from the rubble and rushed to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition, but firefighters had to extricate the third. He or she appeared to be conscious but had critical injuries, officials said.
They say the crane did not collapse, but it is unclear if the load it was carrying fell directly on the workers.
Shortly before 5:30 p.m., a third person was still trapped in the basement and firefighters were working through a narrow hole to free him or her.
Initially it was believed to have been a crane that collapsed but FDNY clarified that it was a roof.
Emergency crews and dozens of firefighters responded to the emergency. It is reportedly a two-story building that has been permitted to add a third story.