NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Rescue crews in New Orleans on Sunday were trying to find a worker missing in the rubble of a hotel that collapsed while under construction but work in the unstable structure must be done delicately, officials said.
Officials won’t say if they have any indication whether the missing worker is alive. New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell said they are going to treat their work as a rescue mission until they have evidence the missing person is dead along with two other people killed in the Saturday collapse at the Hard Rock Hotel project near the city’s historic French Quarter.
“Safety is the No. 1 thing. The last thing you want to do when you are trying to rescue somebody is lose someone else,” McConnell said at a Sunday news conference.
Several floors of the hotel collapsed Saturday. WWL-TV obtained a viewer’s dramatic video of upper floors collapsing Saturday before one side of the building crashed to the street in a blinding cloud of dust and debris.
The bodies of the two people killed have not been recovered. Thirty people were injured. Only one remains in the hospital. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell visited the man, who had surgery for a leg injury.
“He told me it could have been worse. He wanted to make sure his co-workers were safe. He was envisioning the two who were on the floor with him,” Cantrell said.
Crews Sunday morning were assembling a 220,000-pound (99,800-kilogram) crane driven into the city overnight to begin the delicate process of removing the debris, McConnell said.
“Our original estimate to get a crane was two weeks. We got it here in less than 24 hours,” McConnell said.
The project’s contractor, Citadel Builders LLC, was flying in engineers from Europe to help crews remove debris without risking the life of the missing person or nearby buildings and aid in the investigation, officials said.
Neither Citadel Builders nor emergency officials have commented on any potential cause of the building collapse.
The new Hard Rock Hotel was under construction at the corner of Rampart Street and Canal Street, a broad boulevard just outside the French Quarter that is lined with restaurants hotels and retailers. Canal, which carries six lanes of traffic divided by a wide median where streetcars roll, separates the Quarter from the city’s main business district.
Officials warned massive disputations in the area will likely last weeks. Some debris from the building fell on the roof of the Saenger Theatre. Cantrell said the exact damage to the theater has not been determined, but productions of “Wicked” have been canceled through the end of its run next weekend. She urged patience because it could take weeks or even months to clean up the area.
“This structure is not stable. We want people to stay away from the area. How we touch it — it just matters,” the mayor said.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on the partial collapse of a hotel under construction in New Orleans (all times local):
Emergency workers in New Orleans are preparing to enter a partially collapsed building at the edge of the French Quarter in hopes of finding two people missing since part of the building came crashing down at mid-morning.
The Hard Rock Hotel was under construction when a large section of it collapsed Saturday. One person was killed at the scene. Approximately 20 others were injured. A man who had been unaccounted for turned out to have been at a local hospital. But two other people remain missing and Fire Chief Tim McConnell says rescue workers hope to find them alive.
McConnell said only part of the building is considered stable. And a 270-foot (82.3-meter) -tall crane looming over the wreckage also is unstable and in danger of collapse — further complicating rescue efforts.
A large portion of a hotel under construction in New Orleans has suddenly collapsed.
News outlets report several construction workers had to run to safety Saturday as the Hard Rock Hotel, which has been under construction for the last several months, came crashing down.
It was not immediately clear what caused the collapse or if anyone was injured.
Upper floors began to fall on top of each other before one side of the building fell to the ground below.
The hotel was scheduled to open in the spring.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Hard Rock Hotel under construction at the edge of New Orleans’ historic French Quarter collapsed Saturday morning, leaving at least one person dead and three unaccounted for, authorities said.
Nearby buildings were evacuated and officials said the building and a 270-foot (82.3-meter) construction crane still looming over the site were considered unstable. It was not immediately clear how that would affect search and rescue efforts. A drone was flown over the site to help authorities assess the situation.
WWL-TV aired and tweeted a viewer’s dramatic video of the collapse , showing upper floors falling on top of each other before one side of the building toppled to the ground.
Another video on social media was taken by someone aboard one of the city’s famous streetcars as it approached the site while the building was collapsing. It showed what looked like a metal structure — part of the building or a piece of construction equipment — tumbling to the ground and people running from the scene as clouds of dust billowed up, obscuring the view like a thick fog.
Evacuees included guests at a hostel across the street from the damaged building.
“I heard a huge noise and thought it was a plane crashing. Then, the hostel shook,” guest Sue Hurley, 68, told The Associated Press. She said she was reminded of news accounts of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Another hostel guest, Michael Arbeiter, 30, from Munich, Germany, said he was just getting out of the shower when the room shook.
“I’m not sure what happened but they told us to get out of here,” he said. “I’m supposed to stay until Monday. Thank God it was not another 9-11.”
The building was under construction at the corner of Rampart Street and Canal Street, a broad boulevard just outside the Quarter, lined with restaurants hotels and retailers. Canal, which carries six lanes of traffic divided by a wide median where streetcars roll, separates the Quarter from the city’s main business district.
Authorities say 18 people were taken to a hospital for treatment. All were considered stable.
Gov. John Bel Edwards visited the scene and urged people to stay away from the area, which was still considered unstable. As dust settled following the morning collapse, twisted metal, concrete pilings and other wreckage covered part of Rampart Street.
“It was a deep rumbling sound,” Matt Worges, who saw the collapse from a nearby building, told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate. “Like an airplane maybe. It drew my head immediately.”