Collapse of a Future Hard Rock Hotel Leaves One Dead, and New Orleans Reeling
Nineteen people were assessed for injuries at the scene, 18 of whom were transported to area hospitals, the New Orleans fire chief, Timothy McConnell, said. All were in stable condition. There were no reports of people injured on the ground around the construction site.
Earlier, officials said that one other person had been unaccounted for, but that person was found in a hospital and was also in stable condition, the authorities said at a later news conference. Officials also said that an unspecified number of others — in the “double digits,” emergency officials told reporters — had gone to hospitals on their own.
The person killed in the collapse was still in the building hours later, Jonathan Fourcade, a spokesman for New Orleans Emergency Medical Services, said on Saturday. The identity of that person, who fire officials said was a worker on the site, had not been released.
Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, who had a day of re-election campaign events scheduled as polls were opened for a statewide primary race, rerouted to the site of the collapse on Saturday. “Obviously, it’s a very serious situation here on Canal Street,” Mr. Edwards, a Democrat, said at a 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.”
Hard Rock International said in a statement that the hotel was being built as part of a licensing agreement and that it had “no involvement” in its construction. “We want to extend our deepest sympathies to victims of this tragic accident and to their loved ones and friends,” the statement said.
Later in the day, as crews were preparing to go inside the building, parts of it looked shredded, as strips of metal and other materials dangled. Tourists and residents gathered along the area blocked off by police tape; one group of men posed for a photograph with the building looming behind them.
The street closings clogged surrounding roadways with traffic and disrupted some of the city’s bus routes. Officials cautioned that the area around the hotel might be closed for some time, at least through the weekend, as the building remained a danger and a perilous search was still underway.