Missing worker search goes on after New Orleans hotel collapse

October 14, 2019

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New Orleans: The Hard Rock Hotel, which was under construction, after a fatal partial collapse on Saturday.—AP
New Orleans: The Hard Rock Hotel, which was under construction, after a fatal partial collapse on Saturday.—AP

NEW ORLEANS: Rescue crews in New Orleans on Sunday were trying to find a worker missing in the rubble of a hotel that collapsed while under construction but work in the unstable structure must be done delicately, officials said.

Officials won’t say if they have any indication whether the missing worker is alive. New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell said they are going to treat their work as a rescue mission until they have evidence the missing person is dead along with two other people killed in the Saturday collapse at the Hard Rock Hotel project near the city’s historic French Quarter.

“Safety is the No. 1 thing. The last thing you want to do when you are trying to rescue somebody is lose someone else,” McConnell said at a Sunday news conference.

Several floors of the hotel collapsed on Saturday. WWL-TV obtained a viewer’s dramatic video of upper floors collapsing before one side of the building crashed to the street in a blinding cloud of dust and debris.

The bodies of the two people killed have not been recovered. Thirty people were injured. Only one remains in the hospital. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell visited the man, who had surgery for a leg injury.

“He told me it could have been worse. He wanted to make sure his co-workers were safe. He was envisioning the two who were on the floor with him,” Cantrell said.

Crews on Sunday morning were assembling a 220,000-pound (99,800-kilogram) crane driven into the city overnight to begin the delicate process of removing the debris, McConnell said.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2019