The New York Times

Hard Rock Hotel Collapse in New Orleans Kills One and Injures at Least 18

The New York Times logoThe New York Times 12/10/2019 22:43:00 Derrick Bryson Taylor

Video provided by ABC News

Parts of a Hard Rock Hotel under construction in New Orleans collapsed Saturday morning, killing one and injuring at least 18 others, a city official said. Three people had not been accounted for.

The New Orleans Fire Department received reports of a collapsed building around 9:12 a.m. local time, Chief Timothy McConnell said at a news conference on Saturday. The top six to eight floors of the building were affected, he said.

Chief McConnell and other officials repeatedly warned people to stay away from the area, noting that the structure and a 270-foot crane remained unstable and still might collapse.

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Nineteen people were assessed for injuries at the scene, 18 of whom were transported to area hospitals, he said. All were in stable condition.

There were no reports of any injuries of people on the ground around the construction site.

The person who was killed remains in the building, Jonathan Fourcade, a spokesman for New Orleans Emergency Medical Services, said on Saturday. Additional information about the person was not immediately available.

He said that search-and-rescue teams were arriving to the scene and would soon begin to "sweep the building to see if they can find any other victims."

"Obviously, it's a very serious situation here on Canal Street," Gov. John Bel Edwards said at the news conference. "I'm just asking for everybody to lift up in prayer those who are at the hospital" and people who were "unaccounted for."

"This is an active scene," NOLA Ready, New Orleans's emergency preparedness campaign, said on Twitter. "Please avoid the area & listen to public safety officials."

The organization later said on Twitter that the Fire Department was evacuating select buildings in the blocks surrounding the collapse.

The surrounding area will remain cordoned off for the next couple of days, Mr. Fourcade said, adding, "There is rubble in the street and the building is still unstable."

a group of people walking on a city street: Parts of a Hard Rock Hotel under construction near the French Quarter in New Orleans collapsed on Saturday. © Annie Flanagan for The New York TimesParts of a Hard Rock Hotel under construction near the French Quarter in New Orleans collapsed on Saturday. At least one person complained on Twitter about being evacuated from her Airbnb by the Fire Department. "Straight up not having a good time," she said.

Sarah Fischer, an employee at Fischer's Jewelry on Canal Street who saw the collapse, said that the area was completely blocked off, and that Fischer's Jewelry employees were being forced to evacuate over worries that the crane could fall.

"We saw, all of a sudden, just this thick cloud of white smoke and metal falling," she said. "You couldn't see in front of you and it lasted 30 seconds, maybe a minute."

Ms. Fischer said there was metal all over the street. "You can see people stuck up there," she said of the building, adding that firefighters were trying to rescue people.

It was not immediately clear how many people were in the structure at the time it collapsed or after it began to fall apart.

Ms. Fischer said the hotel had been under construction for at least a year. "They were closer to finishing it up."

Dramatic video shot from inside a streetcar as the collapse occurred shows vehicles speeding away from the scene. Someone inside the streetcar can also be heard instructing people to "get to the back."

The footage, which was posted on Twitter, also shows passengers reluctantly getting off the streetcar and people on the street rushing about, covering their mouths.

A news release announcing Hard Rock's coming New Orleans location, near the city's historic French Quarter, said the hotel would have 350 rooms, residential spaces, two ballrooms and 12,000 square feet of event space.

The Hard Rock Hotel did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

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