An accident at the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, currently under construction, has claimed at least one life and injured over a dozen others, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Rescue workers are still trying to locate a number of people who remain unaccounted for.
Early Saturday morning, as construction crews were working on the hotel, the building's top six to eight floors collapsed, for reasons that remain unclear. At a press conference near the scene, New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell said that the building remains unstable, and that nearby buildings in the city's busy downtown have been evacuated.
According to New Orleans' WWL-TV, two large cranes were being used in the building's construction. Following the accident, one still stood, unsupported, and swaying precariously.
"When you see the crane listing away from the building … this is very serious," said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.
18 people were injured and taken to nearby hospitals, where they were listed in stable condition. At least one person is believed to have died in the incident, and rescue workers, using drones and dogs, are still searching for at least three people still unaccounted for. No one on the street is believed to have been injured in the accident.
Harrowing video, which you can see below, shows workers running for their lives as the building crumbles.Meanwhile, mangled debris litters the scene around the intersection of Rampart and Canal Streets, one of the busiest intersections in the city. A WWL-TV reporter describes seeing a person in a yellow safety vest sitting down and holding the side of his head, apparently wincing in pain. Nova Espinoza is the wife of Anthony Magrestte, one of the construction workers who is unaccounted for.
"I don't know where my husband is. Nobody from his company has seen him. They can't find where he is," she said through tears.
A construction worker who was not identified said that there were about 45 people working in and outside of the building when the accident occurred.
"I was on the 18th floor when it happened. We ran to the center of the building to escape," he said.
Witnesses in area buildings and homes described the event.
Keith Director, who was driving on Rampart Street when the accident occurred, said he saw at least two people clinging for their lives.
"It saw two guys on about the 10th story just hanging on. [The crane] was just sort of dangling there," he said.
The Hard Rock Hotel was originally planned to open in the spring as an 18-story building with 350 rooms and 62 condominiums.