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Building Collapse In New Orleans; 1 Dead, 18 Injured, 2 Trapped

[UPDATE 2]

According to WDSU: “Emergency officials have suspended the search for the night for two people missing in a partial building collapse at the Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans.”

[UPDATE 1]

New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell offered an update on the operation to locate and rescue the two trapped individuals:

We have two people who we are unable to locate. Based on our investigation and talking to people who were in the building at the time and working with them, we believe we know where they are. We are unable to locate [them or] get any visibility on them at this time. We have sent drones around the building … trying to locate them. We have no signs of them. That’s why we’re sending crews in right now to try and locate them, and at that point it would be to try and obviously rescue them.

One of them we believe we can get to safely. The other at this time … we’re not sure, and the part of the building that they [are] believed to be in is very unstable. And so we’re working once again with the engineers and contractors to try and get the equipment we need to stabilize it but we do not have a timeline on that at this point. There is a very strong possibility of further collapse…

[Original story]

At approximately 9:12 a.m. on Saturday, an under-construction Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans underwent a partial collapse, leaving one person dead, and two stranded underneath the rubble.

Neither the deceased nor the two individuals trapped inside have been publicly identified. According to officials, 18 injured people were transported to local hospitals, all of whom are in “stable” condition.

According to a press release from the mayor’s office:

New Orleans Fire Department is deploying an urban search and rescue team into the building to attempt to retrieve one of the people inside. Another individual is in a less stable area. A determination is being made by officials on how best to reach the individual.

Speaking with the press on the ground near the collapsed building, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said that the situation was still “very fluid and very dangerous,” adding that “every few minutes, something is falling off of the building.”

Edwards also asked the press to stay away from the “site of the collapse.”

“It is still very unstable,” New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell said. “Our folks went in initially [and] removed several people from the building.”

When asked if further collapse was a possibility, the superintendent answered in the affirmative, noting that the 270-foot “crane” was the “biggest fear.”

Director of New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Collin Arnold was asked by a reporter if the construction site had “passed inspections” and if it was “secure with all the permits with the city of New Orleans.” He replied that while he didn’t have that information, multiple agencies, including the Department of Publication Works, Safety and Permits, and the Department of Code Enforcement were on the scene in order to “assess that situation.”

Video has come in from social media showing the collapse from various perspectives:

A press release from the mayor’s office states that a “family-reunification program for the family members of those unaccounted for” has been set up by the Department of Health, and that “traffic around the area” of the incident “will be impacted through the rest of the weekend as well as Monday…”

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