Plans pushed back to explode 2 cranes in New Orleans

  • Two unstable cranes loom over the construction of a Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans.  The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage. Authorities say explosives will be strategically placed on the two unstable construction cranes in hopes of bringing them down with a series of small controlled blasts ahead of approaching tropical weather.

    Two unstable cranes loom over the construction of a Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans. The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage. Authorities say explosives will be strategically placed on the two unstable construction cranes in hopes of bringing them down with a series of small controlled blasts ahead of approaching tropical weather. Associated Press

  • New Orleans music legend Deacon John Moore sings "Amazing Grace" during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct. 12, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups.

    New Orleans music legend Deacon John Moore sings "Amazing Grace" during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct. 12, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups. Associated Press

  • Workers in a bucket, right, begin the process of planting explosive charges on two unstable cranes at the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse on Saturday, Oct. 12, in New Orleans, viewed on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Authorities say explosives will be strategically placed on the two unstable construction cranes in hopes of bringing them down with a series of small controlled blasts ahead of approaching tropical weather. Officials hope to bring the towers down Friday without damaging nearby businesses and historic buildings in and around the nearby French Quarter.

    Workers in a bucket, right, begin the process of planting explosive charges on two unstable cranes at the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse on Saturday, Oct. 12, in New Orleans, viewed on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Authorities say explosives will be strategically placed on the two unstable construction cranes in hopes of bringing them down with a series of small controlled blasts ahead of approaching tropical weather. Officials hope to bring the towers down Friday without damaging nearby businesses and historic buildings in and around the nearby French Quarter. Associated Press

  • New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards address reporters near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans.  The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage.

    New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards address reporters near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans. The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage. Associated Press

  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards addresses reporters near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans.  The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage.

    Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards addresses reporters near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans. The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage. Associated Press

  • Passers-by watch and take pictures near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans.  The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage.

    Passers-by watch and take pictures near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans. The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage. Associated Press

  • New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards comfort the brother of one of the deceased construction workers near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans.  The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage.

    New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards comfort the brother of one of the deceased construction workers near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans. The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage. Associated Press

  • New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell comforts the brother of one of the deceased workers as Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards walks away after giving his condolences, near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans.  The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage.

    New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell comforts the brother of one of the deceased workers as Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards walks away after giving his condolences, near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans. The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage. Associated Press

  • Workers walk from the site of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. New Orleans officials say the chances of a missing worker's survival after the collapse are diminishing, and they have shifted their efforts from rescue to recovery mode. News outlets report Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell says they shifted Wednesday ahead of a possible tropical storm. McConnell says chances of the missing worker's survival will be considered nearly "zero" if no sign of him turns up by Wednesday night.

    Workers walk from the site of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. New Orleans officials say the chances of a missing worker's survival after the collapse are diminishing, and they have shifted their efforts from rescue to recovery mode. News outlets report Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell says they shifted Wednesday ahead of a possible tropical storm. McConnell says chances of the missing worker's survival will be considered nearly "zero" if no sign of him turns up by Wednesday night. Associated Press

  • New Orleans Fire Department personnel stand by the scene of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. New Orleans officials say the chances of a missing worker's survival after the collapse are diminishing, and they have shifted their efforts from rescue to recovery mode. News outlets report Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell says they shifted Wednesday ahead of a possible tropical storm. McConnell says chances of the missing worker's survival will be considered nearly "zero" if no sign of him turns up by Wednesday night.

    New Orleans Fire Department personnel stand by the scene of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. New Orleans officials say the chances of a missing worker's survival after the collapse are diminishing, and they have shifted their efforts from rescue to recovery mode. News outlets report Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell says they shifted Wednesday ahead of a possible tropical storm. McConnell says chances of the missing worker's survival will be considered nearly "zero" if no sign of him turns up by Wednesday night. Associated Press

  • New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell comforts the brother of one of the deceased construction workers near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans.  The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage.

    New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell comforts the brother of one of the deceased construction workers near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans. The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage. Associated Press

  • Two unstable cranes loom over the construction of a Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans.  The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage. Authorities say explosives will be strategically placed on the two unstable construction cranes in hopes of bringing them down with a series of small controlled blasts ahead of approaching tropical weather.

    Two unstable cranes loom over the construction of a Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans. The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage. Authorities say explosives will be strategically placed on the two unstable construction cranes in hopes of bringing them down with a series of small controlled blasts ahead of approaching tropical weather. Associated Press

  • New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards address reporters near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans.  The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage.

    New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards address reporters near the Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans. The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage. Associated Press

  • The Saenger Theater sign is seen in the foreground of the damaged Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans.  The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage.

    The Saenger Theater sign is seen in the foreground of the damaged Hard Rock Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New Orleans. The 18-story hotel project that was under construction collapsed last Saturday, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the wreckage. Associated Press

  • Workers in a bucket, top, begin the process of planting explosive charges on two unstable cranes at the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse on Saturday, Oct. 12, in New Orleans, viewed on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Authorities say explosives will be strategically placed on the two unstable construction cranes in hopes of bringing them down with a series of small controlled blasts ahead of approaching tropical weather. Officials hope to bring the towers down Friday without damaging nearby businesses and historic buildings in and around the nearby French Quarter.

    Workers in a bucket, top, begin the process of planting explosive charges on two unstable cranes at the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse on Saturday, Oct. 12, in New Orleans, viewed on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Authorities say explosives will be strategically placed on the two unstable construction cranes in hopes of bringing them down with a series of small controlled blasts ahead of approaching tropical weather. Officials hope to bring the towers down Friday without damaging nearby businesses and historic buildings in and around the nearby French Quarter. Associated Press

  • Workers in a bucket begin the process of planting explosive charges on two unstable cranes at the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse Saturday, Oct. 12, in New Orleans, viewed Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Authorities say explosives will be strategically placed on the two unstable construction cranes in hopes of bringing them down with a series of small controlled blasts ahead of approaching tropical weather. Officials hope to bring the towers down Friday without damaging nearby businesses and historic buildings in and around the nearby French Quarter.

    Workers in a bucket begin the process of planting explosive charges on two unstable cranes at the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse Saturday, Oct. 12, in New Orleans, viewed Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Authorities say explosives will be strategically placed on the two unstable construction cranes in hopes of bringing them down with a series of small controlled blasts ahead of approaching tropical weather. Officials hope to bring the towers down Friday without damaging nearby businesses and historic buildings in and around the nearby French Quarter. Associated Press

  • Workers in a bucket begin the process of planting explosive charges on two unstable cranes at the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse on Saturday, Oct. 12, in New Orleans, viewed Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Authorities say explosives will be strategically placed on the two unstable construction cranes in hopes of bringing them down with a series of small controlled blasts ahead of approaching tropical weather. Officials hope to bring the towers down Friday without damaging nearby businesses and historic buildings in and around the nearby French Quarter.

    Workers in a bucket begin the process of planting explosive charges on two unstable cranes at the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse on Saturday, Oct. 12, in New Orleans, viewed Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Authorities say explosives will be strategically placed on the two unstable construction cranes in hopes of bringing them down with a series of small controlled blasts ahead of approaching tropical weather. Officials hope to bring the towers down Friday without damaging nearby businesses and historic buildings in and around the nearby French Quarter. Associated Press

  • A worker holds a candle during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups.

    A worker holds a candle during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups. Associated Press

  • People hold candles during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups.

    People hold candles during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups. Associated Press

  • A person lights a candle during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct. 12, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups.

    A person lights a candle during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct. 12, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups. Associated Press

  • People hold candles during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct. 12, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups.

    People hold candles during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct. 12, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups. Associated Press

  • People hold candles during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct. 12, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups.

    People hold candles during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct. 12, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups. Associated Press

  • People hold candles during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct. 12, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups.

    People hold candles during a candlelight vigil outside city hall for deceased and injured workers from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse Sat., Oct. 12, in New Orleans, on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The vigil was organized by various area labor groups. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/18/2019 11:27 AM

NEW ORLEANS -- Plans have been pushed back a day to bring down two giant, unstable construction cranes in a series of controlled explosions before they can topple onto historic New Orleans buildings, the city's fire chief said Friday, noting the risky work involved in placing explosive on the towers.

With the possibility of winds picking up due to bad weather in the Gulf of Mexico, officials had hoped to bring the cranes down Friday. But Fire Chief Tim McConnell said it would likely be midday Saturday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We're in the tough part now. Making it happen, putting people back in danger," McConnell said. "We're working as fast as possible."

Light, intermittent rain and winds were complicating efforts Friday as workers in buckets suspended from another crane worked to prepare the site, McConnell said.

"Winds pick up too high - and obviously they're much higher at those elevations - it slows us down," he said.

Three people died when a Hard Rock Hotel building under construction at the edge of the French Quarter partially collapsed in a cloud of blinding dust and falling debris last Saturday morning. One body was recovered but the bodies of two construction workers remain in the unstable wreckage. Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she joined loved ones in a memorial ceremony on a nearby rooftop Thursday night.

Cantrell cited the collapsed building and the coming storm in declaring a state of emergency Thursday that empowers police to "commandeer or utilize any private property," force people out of dangerous areas and suspend the sale or transport of alcohol and firearms, among other measures. Gov. John Bel Edwards followed by declaring a state of emergency in the city Friday.

The fire chief said workers suspended from another crane that was moved into place Thursday will weaken the damaged construction towers with blow torches and attach explosives at key points. One of the crane towers is about 270 feet (82 meters) high, the other about 300 feet (91 meters). Both have massive cross arms adding more tonnage. Neither is stable.

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Officials said a wide evacuation area around the site would be expanded even further ahead of the explosion. Gas to a major utility line was being shut down and steps were being taken to protect that line and underground electrical lines that could be affected by falling debris. McConnell said the line would be severely damaged were a crane to land on it.

If the operation is successful, McConnell said, the towers will drop vertically and simultaneously. "Think of it like it's melting," he told reporters.

Experts, including some who brought down damaged buildings at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, have worked around the clock since Saturday to devise a means of safely bringing down the cranes.

The cause of the collapse remains unknown. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration will investigate. Lawsuits are already being filed on behalf of some of the more than 20 people injured.

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