Hard Rock Hotel collapses on Canal Street

One dead, two missing, multiple injuries, fear of further collapse

Don Ames
October 12, 2019 - 9:57 am

One person is dead and two missing after part of the Hard Rock hotel under construction in downtown New Orleans collapsed Saturday morning

Multiple injuries have also been reported. According to New Orleans EMS, at least 18 people were taken to the hospital in stable condition.

While three people were originally reported missing, officials said one of those victims was actually at a hospital receiving treatment. The two still unaccounted for, however, were believed to be trapped inside two different parts of the building.  

According to NOFD, officials believe one of the missing people inside the building is in a stable part of the construction site. The other missing person is believed to be in an unstable part of the building. Both are believed to be alive.

"This is not a short-term event. This is a marathon," New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell said. "We ask people to please steer clear of this and let the first responders do their job."

"Efforts are underway to try to further stabilize the building," Superintendent McConnell added. "There is a strong possibility of further collapse."

Rescue operations are underway for the two people who are missing, according to the NOFD.

The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear. It happened about 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

Upper floors began to fall on top of each other before the Basin Street side of the building fell to the ground below.

Nearby witnesses reported seeing a cloud of smoke consume the area at the time of the collapse.

Two large cranes, being used to construct the building, could be seen swaying after the collapse.

A smaller piece of the building fell about 10:45 a.m.

The site is located at the corner of Canal and North Rampart streets. For decades, that corner was home to a Woolworth’s.

The store, which was the site of lunch counter sit-ins during the civil rights movement, closed years ago, and the building remained vacant until it was demolished in 2014.

Plans for the new 18-story, mixed use development called for 350 hotel rooms and assorted meeting rooms on the site of the former Woolworth Department Store. The development was to also have condos, ranging from 650- to 2,300-square-feet.

The entire area is expected to remain closed to traffic for days. The New Orleans Fire Department was in the process of evacuating other buildings in a 4-block area around the Hard Rock.

The evacuation area is within the square of Bienville Street, Basin Street, Canal Street and Burgundy. 

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