Worker’s Remains Recovered from New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel, as Collapse Investigation Gears Up
Rescue and recovery efforts continue in New Orleans, Louisiana, where part of the Hard Rock Hotel collapsed during construction Saturday morning.
On Sunday, crews managed to recover the remains of a worker tragically killed in the disaster.
They’re currently attempting to remove the body of a second worker, and have yet to locate a third still listed as missing.
New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel in Danger of Further Collapse
The Hard Rock Hotel was still under construction at the corner of Rampart and Canal Streets, when the top six floors of the building collapsed without warning shortly after 9:00 a.m. on October 12, 2019. A large crane damaged in the collapse remained in a precarious position this morning.
“We have someone we have not located and can’t get to where we think they might be,” New Orleans Fire Department Chief Tim McConnell said Sunday night. “Our goal here is to continue making the scene safe so we can continue getting into this building deeper and deeper for rescue purposes.”
With the building is so unstable, it’s possible the Hard Rock Hotel could collapse even further.
Status of Missing Worker Remains Unclear
Around 112 construction workers were onsite Saturday morning, and more than 30 were injured. Only one person remained hospitalized as of this morning, following surgery for a leg injury.
“He told me that it could have been worse,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said on Sunday. “He said it happened very fast. He heard noise, looked around and moved very, very quickly.”
Urban Search and Rescue teams, assisted by search dogs and using infrared equipment designed to locate people or bodies under rubble, have been at the scene since Saturday. While it’s believed the missing worker is located on or above the eighth floor, officials declined to say if they had received any indication he is alive.
Citadel Builders Serves as Hard Rock Project’s General Contractor
Citadel Builders, based in Metairie, Louisiana, serves as general contractor on the Hard Rock Hotel project in New Orleans.
According to a company statement, Citadel Builders has flown in the chief engineer for Morrow Cranes, the crane owner, as well as the head engineer of its German manufacturer, to aid in the recovery effort.
“Multiple internal and external investigations are in progress, but we are still in the infancy stages as we have not yet had access to the building,” the statement said. “This situation is being handled much like a plane crash, in that rescue/recovery are the primary functions, followed by the search for physical and technical indicators that may provide clues to the cause.”
Hard Rock Hotel Collapse Forced Evacuations and Road Closures
The Hard Rock Hotel collapse rained metal and other debris down onto Canal Street, a busy six-lane boulevard lined with shops, hotels, and restaurants that boarders New Orleans’ historic French Quarter.
The debris caused extensive damage to the Saenger Theater and forced the evacuation of 10 nearby buildings and condominiums. Utilities are cut off to nine businesses, and 37 families are staying in hotels.
Several streets in the vicinity have been closed since Saturday, while bus and streetcar service are also impacted. Because it could take weeks to stabilize the site, New Orleans residents have been urged to prepare for heavy traffic.
New Orleans Mayor Promises “Relentless” Investigation
So far, it’s not clear what caused the Hard Rock Hotel to collapse.
Right now, search and rescue remains the primary focus; however, Mayor Cantrell promised a “relentless” investigation once those efforts concluded.
According to NOLA.com, the city of New Orleans last inspected the Hard Rock Hotel site on September 24th. Apparently, nothing was found that would have warranted closing down the project.
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