AP

Hotel collapse in New Orleans leaves 1 dead, 2 missing

Oct 12, 2019, 9:23 PM

This aerial photo shows the Hard Rock Hotel, which was under construction, after a fatal partial co...

This aerial photo shows the Hard Rock Hotel, which was under construction, after a fatal partial collapse in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A large section of a Hard Rock Hotel under construction beside New Orleans’ historic French Quarter collapsed Saturday amid blinding dust and flying debris, killing one person and injuring more than 20. Rescue workers searched the largely unstable building until nightfall for two people still unaccounted for.

Nearby buildings were evacuated. A 270-foot (82-meter) construction crane — one of two still looming over the multistory building — also was dangerously unstable, fire officials said. The hunt for the missing was suspended at nightfall over safety concerns. A statement from the project contractor said its representatives would work “throughout the night” with emergency officials on a plan to stabilize the building.

“I heard a huge noise and thought it was a plane crashing,” said Sue Hurley, a 68-year-old guest at a hostel across the street that shuddered with the force of the collapse. Hurley said she was reminded of news accounts of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

WWL-TV aired and tweeted a viewer’s dramatic video of upper floors falling on top of each other before one side of the building crashed to the street.

Another video on social media 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.

Debris hangs on the side of the building after a large portion of a hotel under construction suddenly collapsed in New Orleans on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. Several construction workers had to run to safety 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. (Scott Threlkeld/The Advocate via AP)

“I’m not sure what happened, but they told us to get out of here,” said Michael Arbeiter, 30, from Munich, Germany, a hostel guest who said he was just getting out of the shower when his room shook. “Thank God it was not another 9/11.”

Officials said 18 people were taken to the hospital and several others went to the hospital on their own. They said none of their injuries was believed to be life threatening.

Urban search and rescue teams entered a section of the building Saturday in hopes of finding the two missing people alive, said Fire Chief Tim McConnell. He said authorities believe they know their approximate location based on talks with other survivors of the collapse. One of the two was believed to be in a relatively stable part of the wrecked building; the other, in a less stable area.

Meanwhile, authorities were keeping a wary eye on an unstable construction crane looming over the building.

“There is a very strong possibility of further collapse of this crane right now,” McConnell said.

Citadel Builders LLC, the contractor on the project, said more than 100 workers were on site at the time of the collapse. An email from spokesman Brian Trascher said company officials were working with emergency workers on a plan to stabilize the building.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards visited the site and took part in news briefings soon after the collapse. The Democrat was defending his seat in a primary election Saturday against two major Republican opponents. Edwards was hoping for an outright win to avoid a November runoff.

The new Hard Rock Hotel was under construction at the corner of Rampart Street and Canal Street, a broad boulevard just outside the 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.

As search and rescue efforts unfolded, police stood sentry around a group of people on the Canal Street median who were believed to be loved ones of the missing. A woman nearby said she was trying to find out the status of her brother, a worker at the site. She declined to give her name, wiping tears from her eyes as she walked away.

Removal of the damaged crane and cleanup of massive piles of debris promised to be an enormous undertaking in the days ahead, expected to tie up traffic and commerce. The site is next to two major traffic arteries where major bus and streetcar lines intersect. Among area buildings evacuated was the Saenger Theatre, where traveling companies perform Broadway Shows regularly.

Hard Rock International issued a statement Saturday expressing sympathy for victims and their families. The statement said the company had a licensing agreement with the building’s owner, Kailas Companies, and Hard Rock had no involvement in the construction. It identified the contractor on the project as Citadel Builders LLC.

Citadel issued a statement expressing its condolences for the death and injuries but did not comment on a possible cause of the collapse.

Kailas did not respond to messages left seeking comment Saturday night.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

AP

February, 29, otherwise know as leap year day, is shown on a calendar Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, in Ove...

LEANNE ITALIE AP Lifestyles Writer

What would happen without a Leap Day? More than you might think

Leap year. It's a delight for the calendar and math nerds among us. So how did it all begin and why?

18 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night ...

MEG KINNARD and WILL WEISSERT Associated Press

Trump wins South Carolina, easily beating Haley in her home state and closing in on GOP nomination

Donald Trump won South Carolina's Republican primary on Saturday further consolidating his path to a third straight GOP nomination.

5 days ago

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, center, sits with her attorney Jason Bowles, left, during the first day of t...

MORGAN LEE Associate Press

Negligence or scapegoating? Trial of ‘Rust’ armorer begins in fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin

Prosecutors sought to pin blame on a movie weapons supervisor for bringing live ammunition on set that contributed to the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin during production of the film "Rust."

7 days ago

A pail rests next to caution tape on a beach in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Fla., on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2...

Associated Press

Young girl killed when a hole she dug in the sand collapsed on a Florida beach, authorities said

A young girl died Tuesday when a deep hole she was digging collapsed on her at a south Florida beach, authorities said.

9 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018....

MEAD GRUVER Associated Press

A Colorado man is dead after a pet Gila monster bite

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death if the creature's venom was the cause.

9 days ago

Visitors stand at the closed gates leading to the Eiffel Tower, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 in Paris....

OLEG CETINIC Associated Press

Eiffel Tower operator warns the landmark is closed as strike turns visitors away for a second day

A strike at the Eiffel Tower over poor financial management turned away visitors on Tuesday for the second consecutive day.

9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Hotel collapse in New Orleans leaves 1 dead, 2 missing