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Multiple Casualties At NOLA Hard Rock Collapse

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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On Saturday (Oct. 12) morning, the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown New Orleans partially collapsed while more than 110 construction workers were completing onsite duties.

The incident resulted in the death of two construction workers, a missing third worker and injuries to 30 other individuals.

What Happened

Around 9 a.m., the Hard Rock Hotel building gave way, resulting in the collapse of the structure’s upper floors on the corner of Canal and North Rampart streets. In video footage of the incident, workers can be seen emerging from a cloud of dust as debris from the building fall into the streets.

In safety efforts that followed, 10 surrounding buildings were evacuated as electricity and gas to the buildings and condominiums were turned off, while damage to the roof of the neighboring historic Saenger Theater caused the cancellation of many scheduled performances.

According to New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell, a crane weighing several tons that was attached to the Hard Rock was also damaged and remains in an unstable condition. Other officials added that it appeared initial damages were caused by the collapse of floors six through eight, which resulted in additional damage spread throughout a large portion of the building.

Due to these various factors and hazardous conditions, search teams were only able to recover one of the bodies of the deceased and have still been unable to search for the missing construction worker.

"This is not something you take lightly," McConnell said of the search efforts. "Safety is the No. 1 thing. The last thing you want to do as you're trying to rescue someone is lose someone else."

Metairie, Louisiana-based Citadel Builders has been identified as the general contractor on the Hard Rock construction project, which was slated to be an 18-story, 350-room hotel near the city’s French Quarter. The hotel was expected to open in 2020.

However, although the collapse will undergo an investigation, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell told ABC News that all preliminary information on the structure showed that all proper permits had been obtained and that everything was up to code.

What Now

Since the collapse, Citadel Builders has flown in the chief engineer for Morrow Cranes—the crane owner—the head engineer of the manufacturer from Munich, Germany, and several other engineers to help with recovery efforts and stabilize the damaged crane.

CNN reports that an additional 110-ton crane has also received a police escort from Baton Rouge to be assembled onsite in order to aid in stabilization and facilitate response operations.

Although an investigation has yet to launch, Dr. Emily Nichols, director of Emergency Medical Services in New Orleans, reports that of the 30 individuals sent to the hospital to be treated for injuries, only one remained Sunday. Brian Trascher, a spokesperson for Citadel Builders, reported that the company was working closely with the city to stabilize the building.

In a statement, Citadel Builders said that it, "remains committed to the safety and well being of all first responders and SAR teams working in and around our construction site in New Orleans. While the process may not always move at the desired pace, rest assured that our team continues to work closely with Cantrell and Chief McConnell's personnel on the scene.

"Multiple internal and external investigations are in progress, but we are still in the infancy stages as we have not yet had access to the building. This situation is being handled much like a plane crash, in that rescue/recovery are the primary functions, followed by the search for physical and technical indicators that may provide clues to the cause."

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is slated to help in future investigative efforts once rescue efforts have been completed.

Cantrell tweeted Saturday evening that, “All residents should continue to stay away from the area, and to heed the street closures and traffic warnings. We appreciate the public's response and support, and we are praying for the victims and their families."

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Commercial / Architectural; Commercial Construction; Construction; Fatalities; Health and safety; Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Projects - Commercial; Safety

Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (10/16/2019, 11:54 AM)

Classic case of failure to ensure structural stability during all phases of construction.


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