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Giant cranes at collapsed Hard Rock Hotel where 3 died to be demolished

Controlled explosions are planned to bring down the construction cranes towering above the hotel site.
Image: A portion of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans collapsed on Oct. 12, 2019.
A portion of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans collapsed on Oct. 12, 2019.New Orleans Fire Department via Twitter

Two cranes leaning on a collapsed Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans where three people died on Oct. 12 are to be demolished in controlled explosions.

The demolition was originally scheduled to take place on Friday, but city officials have postponed it multiple times due to high winds. On Saturday, it was rescheduled to Sunday at 12 p.m. at the earliest.

New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell said Saturday that the demolition is a "dangerous operation."

The "cranes are more damaged than we thought," the fire chief said, requiring "changes in methodology" for bringing them down safely.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said planning for the demolition is a "fluid operation." She stressed that she "will not authorize the use of explosives overnight" but will instead ensure it occurs during daylight.

McConnell said 112 people were working inside the building when the 18-story structure began to crumble, NBC affiliate WDSU in New Orleans reported.

Of the three people who died in the collapse, the bodies of two remain inside the site, and the National Guard has been brought in to assist in the search and recovery of those victims.

Cantrell said recovering the remains would be a top priority once the area was rendered safe.

If the plans succeed, the towers would drop without damaging neighboring structures that include the Saenger Theatre and the New Orleans Athletic Club, both built in the 1920s.

An existing evacuation zone around the collapsed building will be expanded four hours before the demolition takes place, McConnell said.

The towers — one around 270 feet high, the other about 300 feet — weigh tons and have loomed over the unstable wreckage for a week.