Hard Rock Hotel collapse: Demolition goes awry after 1 crane impales New Orleans' Rampart Street

NEW ORLEANS — After two days of delays, two teetering cranes at the construction site of the partially collapsed Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans were brought down by explosives Sunday. However, one of the cranes fell onto Rampart Street, while part of the other was hanging over Canal Street.

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After several delays Sunday, the two cranes were imploded. Sirens blared at 3:36 p.m., signaling the imminent demolition. At 3:38, the explosion occurred and one of the cranes fell away from the building, impaling Rampart Street.

As crowds gathered in the streets around the hotel, city officials cautioned spectators to keep a safe distance and warned people watching from rooftops to seek shelter.

"This is not a fireworks show," New Orleans City Councilman Jason Williams told WWL-TV.

Three people were killed after several of the higher floors of the hotel, which is under construction, collapsed Oct. 12. Two bodies remain inside the site. WDSU reported. The National Guard has been brought in to help find the missing victims, the television station reported.

The implosion of the cranes, which are 270 feet and 300 feet tall, respectively, involved a series of carefully placed explosive charges, reported.

Bringing down the cranes proved trickier than expected, according to New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell.

"They found out some things about it that are changing the way they're going to take it down," McConnell told "The crane's more damaged than they thought, so they need to do things that are a little bit safer."

Around 1:15 p.m. Saturday, several hotels on Canal Street had been evacuated, WWL-TV reported.

Earlier Saturday, the Krewe of Boo parade, scheduled for Saturday night in the French Quarter, was canceled because of the demolition, WDSU reported. However, when the demolition was delayed Saturday afternoon, city officials said the parade could go on as scheduled.

Financial issues may have played a part in the first delay of the implosion, WWL reported.

The developer of the hotel project did not pay the $5 million demolition price until Saturday morning, the television station reported. The demolition team, a joint venture between D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. of Greensboro, North Carolina, and Lemoine Disaster Recovery of Lafayette, required full payment into a trust before the demolition could proceed, according to public records requested by WWL.