(ABC News) – At least one person has died and two others remain trapped after an under-construction Hard Rock Hotel partially collapsed Saturday in New Orleans.
New Orleans Fire Chief Timothy McConnell said rescue teams are unable to locate the trapped individuals inside the building, but believe one is in an area that’s easy to access while the other is confined in a part of the building that is unstable.
Crews were gearing up to enter the building Saturday evening to try and rescue the two.
“We have first responders going into a very dangerous building right now, trying to do their job,” a spokesperson for New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said at a press conference. “Please keep them in your thoughts.”
The collapse sent 18 people to local hospitals, according to EMS Director Emily Nichols. The victims transported for treatment were now “all stable.”
Police have not yet identified the person who died at the scene but said the person was someone who worked in the building.
The collapse happened around 9:12 a.m. local time at Canal and North Rampart Streets, McConnell said.
McConnell urged the public to avoid the area and said another collapse was “absolutely” possible because of how unstable the building is.
He called the situation “very dangerous” since the crane, which weighs tons and is 270 feet tall, was not supported. Authorities are working on stabilizing the building, but it will take a while, he noted.
Dramatic video of the incident showed parts of the building crashing into the street as debris billowed into the air.
It’s not clear what caused the collapse, which affected the sixth to eighth floors.
Initially, police said three people were unaccounted for following the crash, but authorities located one of those individuals at a hospital.
Surrounding buildings, including condominiums, were being evacuated. Nearby streets were closed to vehicles, according to NOLA Ready, the city’s emergency preparedness center.
Hard Rock International said in a statement the company had “no involvement in the construction of the project” but extended its “deepest sympathies to victims of this tragic accident and to their loved ones and friends.”