Two workers were killed and another is missing after the $85 million Hard Rock Hotel project in New Orleans collapsed Saturday while under construction, reported The Times Picayune and The New Orleans Advocate. More than 100 people were inside the building at the time of the incident, and the latest reports are that 30 people sought treatment at local hospitals for related injuries.
Officials said the investigation into what caused the upper floors on one side of the building to give way, as seen in a video of the accident, will not start until the rescue and recovery mission is complete. OSHA reportedly is on the scene.
Local authorities are concerned about the stability of the building, as well as a crane that was on top of the structure at the time of the collapse. Two additional cranes were brought to the site in order to secure it. Citadel Builders LLC of Metairie, Louisiana, is the general contractor for the project. The developers include Mohan Kailas; Denzel Clark, president of Citadel; and Todd Trosclair Sr., CEO of All Star Electric, also based in Metairie.
One thing that investigators have going for them is that there is a video record of the collapse and plenty of drone footage taken in the hours and days afterwards. But no one should expect the investigation into the incident to go quickly.
A pedestrian bridge at Florida International University collapsed in March of 2018, and the National Transportation Safety Board still has not released its final determination as to the cause. The board announced that it will hold a public meeting to determine the cause of the collapse on Oct. 22.
So far, the board has indicated that FIGG, the project engineer, could be at fault for its design, which allegedly resulted in the cracks that led to the collapse. Some working on the project had voiced concerns about cracks that had developed in the bridge structure prior to and after installation, and a representative of FIGG reportedly said the cracks posed no safety risk.
OSHA's Office of Engineering Services (OES) didn't hold back though. In a June report, the agency blasted FIGG, general contractor Magnum Construction Management (MCM) and other companies involved with the project, determining that none of them took the cracks seriously enough or insisted on adequate safety measures during post-tensioning, which is when the bridge collapsed onto traffic below, killing six and injuring eight others.