Two people are confirmed dead and one was still missing yesterday after the partial collapse of a Hard Rock Hotel under construction near the French Quarter of New Orleans on Saturday morning.
Twenty-nine people were injured, with all but one released from hospital as of yesterday, the city said.Â
Residents were urged to avoid travelling downtown this morning as the area around central Canal Street remained closed to traffic.Â
New Orleans Fire Department received reports at 9.12am on Saturday, 12 October of a major collapse of the hotel’s sixth, seventh and eighth floors.Â
Fire officials said building’s frame is "considered stable but is unsupported", resulting in the evacuation of local residents and closure of businesses.
Tim McConnell, New Orleans’ fire department superintendent, said: "This is not a short-term event. This is a marathon.
"Efforts are underway to try to further stabilise the building. There is a strong possibility of further collapse."
The nearby Saenger Theatre suffered roof damage from the collapse and remains closed.
LaToya Cantrell, New Orlean’s mayor, said yesterday: "Search and rescue continues to remain our top priority at this time. We want people to heed all traffic precautions that we have put out as we stabilise this area. This is going to be a long process."
In a statement, Hard Rock Cafe International said the hotel was being built by Citadel Builders LLC, who were contracted by real estate firm Kailas Companies, the development’s owner.
Hard Rock Cafe International said: "Hard Rock has had no involvement in the construction of the project. We want to extend our deepest sympathies to victims of this tragic accident and to their loved ones and friends."
On its website, Metairie, Louisiana-headquartered Citadel Builders, said the $85m scheme, called 1031 Canal Street, would be a "landmark project for New Orleans".
Plans for the 18-storey development, which includes 62 apartments, were revealed in February 2018.
In a statement released before the incident, Mohan Kailas, Kailas Companies’ president and founder, said: "What’s most exciting to us about the residences, is that we can offer condo living unlike anything else in New Orleans."
He added: "The residences will also have their own private elevators, rooftop pool, lounge, and gym."
Image courtesy of New Orleans Fire Department