Published: Sun, October 20, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

New Orleans hotel collapse: Demolition of cranes delayed

New Orleans hotel collapse: Demolition of cranes delayed

Following the partial collapse of a Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans last weekend, city officials are preparing to stage a controlled explosion that will bring down two badly damaged cranes towering over the city.

Tropical Storm Nestor was tracking east and has potential to bring 35 miles per hour winds, said Collin Arnold, director of the city's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. The demolition time has not yet been finalized.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell cited the collapsed Hard Rock Hotel and the coming storm in declaring a state of emergency that empowers police to "commandeer or utilize any private property", force people out of unsafe areas and suspend the sale or transport of alcohol and firearms, among other measures. Two bodies remain in the unstable wreckage and Mayor LaToya Cantrell said recovering the remains would be a priority once the cranes are down.

They hope to demolish the cranes with a series of controlled explosions that would drop them straight down without damaging gas and electricity lines and historic buildings. Heightening the urgency was the approach of Tropical Storm Nestor, which formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday.

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John Bel Edwards declared a State of Emergency in Orleans Parish following the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel, which when coupled with the potential for tropical weather presents an urgent threat to the City of New Orleans. In a still-wider area, traffic was to be prohibited and people would be ordered to stay indoors until the demolition is complete and an all-clear is given. "The cranes are still in a precarious situation", McConnell, the fire chief, said.

On Thursday, officials announced plans to attach explosives to the structures.

A temporary evacuation zone surrounds the area around the hotel, displacing residents and businesses. A temporary relocation center was being set up for anyone needing it. People in the area also were warned to expect loud explosions. Citadel Builders LLC, the contractor hired to build the hotel, said it will cooperate and aid in any investigations. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating and, Cantrell and McConnell said, evidence gathering began soon after the collapse. "All documents have been removed and secured by OSHA as well as the New Orleans Police Department". Lawsuits are already being filed on behalf of the injured.

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