Demolition of New Orleans cranes expected Saturday

Work delayed due to a tropical storm

By Amir Vera and Ray Sanchez, CNN
CNN image

New Orleans Fire Department chief Timothy McConnell announced a controlled demolition of two swaying cranes at an afternoon press conference alongside Governor John Bel Edwards and New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrel. (WGNO)

(CNN) - The implosion of two cranes at the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, which partially collapsed during construction, was expected Saturday after a delay due to a tropical storm, officials said.

The precise time after noon local time was to be determined, the city's emergency preparedness agency said via Twitter.

"We will provide updates with ample notice as soon as possible... Stay away from the area," NOLA Ready tweeted.

Saturday evening's Krewe of Boo event downtown, the city's official Halloween parade, was canceled because of the demolition, officials said.

Crews had hoped to take the cranes down Friday evening, said New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell. "The wind is our biggest problem," he said.

Tropical Storm Nestor was tracking east and has potential to bring 35 mph winds, said Collin Arnold, director of the city's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a state of emergency.

Arnold said officials will need the public's cooperation during the demolition because people will want to watch, but he urged against it.

"If you are in line of sight of this, you're too close," Arnold said.

Door-knocking and clearing the evacuation area will begin four hours before demolition, McConnell said.

Experts plan to strategically place explosives onto the cranes, hoping the debris lands in a certain area, avoiding major gas and power lines, according to McConnell.


Two bodies remain in the rubble


Portions of the Hard Rock Hotel collapsed last Saturday. More than 100 construction workers were there, according to one of the construction companies.

Video footage showed workers emerging from a giant cloud of dust after the upper floors collapsed and debris filled the street.

At least two people were killed and 30 hospitalized, authorities said. All but one of the injured have been discharged.

Cantrell said Friday she attended the funeral of Anthony Magrette, 49, whose body was removed from the site on Sunday. Cantrell emphasized the importance of finding and removing the two bodies authorities believe are still in the rubble.

Documents and paperwork from the offices of contractors in the hotel have been collected and put in storage as evidence, Cantrell said.


10 injured in the collapse are suing the construction companies


Ten people who were injured sued Thursday.

The lawsuit accuses the construction companies of failing "to take reasonable care in planning, assessing, and monitoring the construction of the collapsed structure." It also claims that "it was apparent that the structural supports at the building were inadequate to support the weight of the concrete slabs on the upper floors."

"The primary goal is to get to the bottom of exactly what happened, and make sure that nothing like this ever happens again," an attorney for the plaintiffs said.

CNN's Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.

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