Search resumes for worker missing in New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel building site collapse that killed 2

A construction site for the future Hard Rock Hotel collapsed, closing several city blocks and sparking a mandatory evacuation

Posted: Oct 14, 2019 3:40 AM
Updated: Oct 14, 2019 3:40 AM

Rescuers resumed searching Sunday for a worker trapped in rubble after a deadly construction collapse in New Orleans, officials said, but the building's instability is making for a precarious situation.

"As you start to move debris, you've got to make sure that everything is shored up," New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell said, asking for patience as teams work to ensure the structure is safe.

Two people were killed in Saturday's collapse and at least 30 people were hospitalized, authorities said. All but one of the injured have been discharged, they said.

One body had been removed from the site but has not yet been identified, Mayor LaToya Cantrell told reporters Sunday evening.

Crews were working to remove the second body, she said.

The mayor visited the last hospitalized victim at University Medical Center, she said. He is in stable condition after undergoing surgery on his femur Saturday, his family is en route to New Orleans and he is "in the best of spirits that he can be in," the mayor said.

"People matter, and he was an employee on the eighth floor. Happened very fast," Cantrell said. "As he was talking to me, tears were, of course, in his eyes."

Rescue operation is top priority

Crews had suspended the search for the missing worker, but McConnell said Sunday that teams had entered multiple times into the work site today as the search continued.

"Until we know different, we will stay in the rescue mode," he said. "Obviously, life safety is always our No. 1 priority."

A crane brought in early Sunday to help stabilize the structure and facilitate response operations was being set up late Sunday morning.

The crane was on a job site in Baton Rouge, and it received a special police escort to New Orleans, McConnell said. It generally takes three hours to erect a crane, which weighs about 110 tons, he said.

Several engineers have also been brought in, while others — including one traveling from Germany and slated to arrive Sunday evening — are on their way to the site.

More than 100 people were working on the soon-to-be Hard Rock Hotel near the city's historic French Quarter when the building gave way, Citadel Builders spokesman Brian Trascher said in a statement.

"Citadel representatives remain engaged and will be working with the City and engineering experts throughout the night and until a solution can be implemented," the statement from the company, which was the general contractor over the project, said.

Authorities have not said what caused the collapse, but Cantrell promised a "relentless" investigation into the incident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration would join the probe once rescue efforts were complete, she said.

Two dead, at least 18 injured

Video footage of the building crashing to the ground shows workers emerging from a cloud of dust after the building's upper floors collapse, leaving debris littering the street below.

Mandatory evacuations in the surrounding areas were issued Saturday as city officials said the building was stable but unsupported, CNN affiliate WDSU reported.

There was a strong possibility of further collapse, McConnell said Saturday. He compared Saturday's damage to that of an earthquake.

A crane weighing several tons that was attached to the building was unstable and could also collapse, McConnell said.

"All residents should continue to stay away from the area, and to heed the street closures and traffic warnings," Cantrell said in a tweet Saturday night. "We appreciate the public's response and support, and we are praying for the victims and their families."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 28770

Reported Deaths: 1092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds224739
DeSoto144216
Madison124234
Jones109149
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Harrison79410
Scott75715
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Lee51816
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Washington5129
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Clay24410
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Smith21111
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Prentiss1003
Greene968
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Tishomingo731
Choctaw724
Quitman690
Perry634
Alcorn601
Stone541
Franklin392
Benton270
Sharkey270
Issaquena81
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4532143
Montgomery3875102
Mobile3797134
Tuscaloosa210739
Marshall162210
Lee124537
Shelby110923
Madison11047
Morgan10203
Walker87123
Franklin86314
Dallas8419
Elmore83614
Baldwin7359
Etowah64413
DeKalb6415
Butler60727
Chambers60027
Tallapoosa57269
Autauga55312
Unassigned50724
Russell5030
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4576
Houston4464
Limestone4290
Cullman4114
Pike4075
Colbert3775
Bullock3649
Coffee3592
Barbour3331
Covington3327
St. Clair3192
Marengo29911
Hale29621
Escambia2936
Wilcox2848
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Calhoun2805
Sumter27912
Clarke2686
Dale2620
Jackson2522
Winston2373
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Pickens2176
Chilton2152
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Monroe2052
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Washington1027
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