NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Thundering explosions toppled two cranes Sunday that had loomed precariously for days over a partially collapsed hotel in New Orleans, in what city officials hailed as a success.
The fiery afternoon explosions sent up massive clouds of dust and sent one crane crashing to the street. The second fell in a way that left much of it resting atop the hotel, where officials said it was “stable” and could be removed piecemeal.
“We know that we are safer now than we have been in the past eight days,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell, speaking at a news conference after the explosions roared through the city’s downtown.
It was a little more than a week ago — on Oct. 12 — that a Hard Rock Hotel under construction near the New Orlean’s historic French Quarter partially collapsed. Three workers died.
The cranes — one around 270 feet high, the other about 300 feet — weighed thousands of tons and were badly damaged in the collapse. They had been tilting dangerously, and officials had feared the towers would come down on their own, possibly smashing into nearby buildings or severely damaging underground gas and electric lines.
But once the dust had cleared Sunday, it appeared that none of those worst-case scenarios came to pass. The mayor said three windows at the historic Saenger Theater across the street were damaged but they hadn’t received reports of other buildings damaged.