/Hard Rock hotel construction collapses in New Orleans; 1 dead, 3 missing

Hard Rock hotel construction collapses in New Orleans; 1 dead, 3 missing

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A scary scene was captured on video Saturday morning in New Orleans showing the Hard Rock Hotel on Canal Street collapsing onto the road.
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One person unaccounted for in the collapse of a Hard Rock Hotel on Canal Street in New Orleans has been located, according to details released by officials at press conference late Saturday afternoon. 

A search and rescue team has been deployed to a stable portion of the building to search for another missing person. The third is believed to be in an unstable portion of the building located in New Orleans’ French Quarter, officials stated. 

“We don’t have the ability to get to them,” said New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell. “There are engineers working to determine how to make it safe in order to get to that individual.”

McConnell said of the rescue effort, “this is not a short term event; this is a marathon.” 

The construction of the Hard Rock Hotel on Canal Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter collapsed Saturday morning. McConnell confirmed at an earlier press conference one person died, three people were unaccounted for and the building was highly unstable. 

“This is a serious collapse. We’re praying for the individuals who are unaccounted for,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, who was in New Orleans for election day.

The New Orleans Fire Department arrived on the scene at 9:12 a.m. shortly after the collapse. EMS transported 18 workers, all of whom are in stable condition, according to Dr. Emily Nichols, New Orleans’ Emergency Medical Services director. One person refused transport, Nichols said. Authorities said there were no reports of bystander injuries and that all who were treated were working on the site.

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Building’s frame collapses several stories

Video provided to WWL-TV shows the harrowing moments when the building’s frame fell several stories in the air to the street. The video shows several people running from the collapse.

Welder David Hensley was inside the building working when he heard a loud noise, “like a train or an earthquake,” he said. 

Witness account: ‘Mind boggling’ Hard Rock hotel construction collapse

As the floors began collapsing, Hensley said he leapt to a scaffolding to escape. 

“I go to the side and just see the building collapse and just start hitting floors to floors going down. I had to run out there, run to the back of the building trying to get myself safe. Jumped to the next floor and climbed down the scaffolding,” Hensley said. “I saw the levels collapse, 18 all the way to 7.

“It’s mind boggling.”

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Welder David Hensley was inside the Hard Rock Hotel construction when it collapsed in New Orleans on Oct. 12, 2019.
Andrew J. Yawn, Montgomery Advertiser

Crane could ‘come down with a tremendous amount of weight’

Officials said it’s not yet known what caused the collapse. McConnell said the top six to eight floors are heavily damaged and authorities are working to determine if the construction site was up to code and had been properly inspected.

As of 11:30 a.m., authorities said the building remains unstable and further collapses were possible. A press release from Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office stated, “the frame of the building is considered stable but is unsupported and therefore the situation is considered dangerous…” There was also fear that one of the two giant cranes on the hotel could fall. After the building’s structure crumbled, it’s no longer supported. 

“Our biggest fear right now is the crane. It’s 270-foot and it could come down with a tremendous amount of weight,” McConnell said.

Viewers may find the following video disturbing.

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Multiple injuries were reported following the partial collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana, on the morning of Oct. 12, 2019.
Carl Cole via Storyful, Lafayette Daily Advertiser

At 12:48 a.m., NOFD called for an evacuation of all buildings surrounding the hotel, from Bienville Street to Canal Street and Basin Street to Burgundy Street. The mayor’s office also advised residents “to avoid the area until further notice.” 

Hensley said he was grateful to escape. The first thing he did after his feet hit the ground floor was call his kids. 

“I feel grateful I made it out, but we got a couple people that didn’t, so I’m mourning for them. I hope the best for them,” Hensley said.

The hotel was expected to open in the spring, according to The Associated Press. 

Street closures 

  • Basin Street from Rampart Street to Tulane Avenue
  • North Rampart Street from Conti to Common streets
  • Canal Street from Saratoga to Baronne streets

City officials stated there may be interruptions to transit services in some areas of New Orleans, including the Canal streetcar to the Mississippi River. The Riverfront streetcar is out of service, according to a press release from Mayor Cantrell’s office.

This is expected to be a traffic issue stretching into Monday, officials stated at an afternoon press conference. 

This story will be updated.

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