Saturday, 30 May 2020

Explosives Fail to Take Down Crane at Site of Collapsed Hard Rock Hotel

The demolition of two construction cranes that were in danger of falling didn’t go exactly as planned on Sunday at the site of a building collapse in New Orleans: One was left dangling high above a city street.

Demolition crews used explosives to try to safely take down the cranes, which were each more than 250 feet tall, from the building’s damaged shell. Three workers were killed and more than 20 other people were hurt on Oct. 12 when portions of the upper floors of the building, a future Hard Rock Hotel that was under construction, collapsed.

While one of the cranes broke apart and came down in a cloud of dust on Sunday, the second one teetered from the side of the 18-story building.

Although the crane was left clinging to the skeleton of the building, city officials played it down, saying that the demolition, which had been postponed on Friday, went as expected.

“I do not think it could have gone much better,” Timothy McConnell, chief of the New Orleans Fire Department, said during a news conference after the demolition. “We’re way better than we were.”

Chief McConnell said city engineers would decide whether the remaining crane should be dismantled before the half-completed hotel is leveled or come down during the demolition.

“Remember, the building collapsed, so it’s still a dangerous building,” he said. “The building is still very unstable.”

LaToya Cantrell, the city’s mayor, said during the news conference that the priority was to recover the bodies of two of the three people who were killed in the collapse. The other victim’s body was removed from the rubble last Sunday.

“My timeline is right now,” Ms. Cantrell said of recovering the bodies.

Chief McConnell said that a sewer line was damaged when the crane crashed down but that gas and electric lines were unscathed in the demolition, which took place around 2:30 p.m.

The hotel, on Canal Street, had been under construction for at least a year. Plans called for 350 rooms, residential spaces, two ballrooms and 12,000 square feet of event space. The cause of the collapse has yet to be determined.

Neil Vigdor is a breaking news reporter on the Express Desk. He previously covered Connecticut politics for the Hartford Courant. @gettinviggy Facebook

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