One person is dead and three are still missing after part of the Hard Rock hotel under construction in downtown New Orleans collapsed Saturday morning with what witnesses described as a rumble and giant cloud of dust. Multiple injuries have been reported, authorities said.
In an 11:20 a.m. news conference near the scene, New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell said the upper six to eight floors of the structure collapsed and that the building remains very unstable. Nearby buildings have been evacuated.
Authorities said 18 people had been transported to the area hospitals. They were reported in stable condition. There are no reports of anyone on the street being injured.
The site is located at the corner of Canal and North Rampart streets. A group of construction workers on the scene who were working on the building said an hour or so after the collapse that workers were still being accounted for.
One worker said about 45 people were working inside the building.
“I was on the 18th floor when it happened," he said. "We ran to the center of the building to escape.”
In videos circulating on social media, parts of the building can be seen falling onto North Rampart as people on the street flee in terror.
Witnesses described a surreal scene of destruction.
"It sounded like a -- I don't know how to describe it -- like a building coming down," said Matt Worges, who saw the collapse from the nearby Tidewater Building.
"It was a deep, rumbling sound," he said. "Like an airplane maybe. It drew my head immediately."