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Threat of winds delays demolition of New Orleans cranes

Threats from a tropical storm have delayed the implosion of the two cranes at the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, which partially collapsed during construction, officials said.

Crews had hoped to take the cranes down Friday evening, but that has been moved to Saturday afternoon, said New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell.

“The wind is our biggest problem,” he said. “The earliest we can see it happening was noon, but unfortunately we can’t give you a better time because we’re not in control of that.”

Tropical Storm Nestor is tracking east and has potential to bring 35 mph winds to the city, said Collin Arnold, director of the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a state of emergency for the city due to the storm.

Arnold said officials will need the public’s cooperation during the demolition because people will want to watch, but he urged people not to do that.

“If you are in line of sight of this, you’re too close,” Arnold said.

Door-knocking and clearing the evacuation area will begin four hours before demolition, McConnell said.

Experts plan to strategically place explosives onto the cranes, in hopes that the debris will land in an area underneath, avoiding major gas and power lines, according to McConnell.

Two bodies remain in the rubble

Portions of the Hard Rock Hotel collapsed last Saturday. There were more than 100 construction workers on site at the time, according to one of the construction companies.

Video footage showed workers emerging from a giant cloud of dust after the upper floors of the building collapsed and debris filled the street below.

At least two people were killed in the collapse and at least 30 people were hospitalized, authorities said. All but one of the injured have been discharged.

Cantrell said Friday she attended the funeral this afternoon of Anthony Magrette, 49, whose body was removed from the site on Sunday. Cantrell emphasized the importance of finding and removing the two bodies authorities believe are still in the rubble.

Documents and paper work from the offices of contractors in the hotel have been collected and put in storage as evidence, Cantrell said.

10 injured in the collapse are suing the construction companies

Ten people who were injured in the collapse filed a lawsuit Thursday.

The lawsuit accuses the construction companies of failing “to take reasonable care in planning, assessing, and monitoring the construction of the collapsed structure.” It also claims that “it was apparent that the structural supports at the building were inadequate to support the weight of the concrete slabs on the upper floors.”

“The primary goal is to get to the bottom of exactly what happened, and make sure that nothing like this ever happens again,” an attorney for the plaintiffs said.

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