NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Rescue workers and search dogs moved gingerly through a dangerously unstable, partially collapsed hotel in New Orleans on Monday in a risky search for the only person still missing after the structure partially collapsed.
Two people are known to have died in the Saturday disaster and more than 20 were hurt.
Fire Chief Tim McConnell told reporters that engineers also were in the building to determine how best to stabilize it. And experts also were working on plans to stabilize and remove a 270-foot (82.3-meter) high crane, also in danger of tumbling.
“It’s still a very dangerous building,” McConnell said.
“We are putting our folks at somewhat risk,” McConnell added later. “When you’re in rescue — you’re trying to get some people out — you take a little more risk.”
Stabilization and cleanup were expected to take weeks.
Large sections of two major thoroughfares near the French Quarter and the main business district remained closed, including streetcar tracks and bus routes. Mayor LaToya Cantrell said utilities were cut off to nine major businesses in the area. She said 37 families living in the area have been put up at hotels.
The cause of the collapse is under investigation. Officials said the last inspection of record at the site was Sept. 24.
Cantrell pledged the city’s full cooperation in a federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration investigation of what went wrong.
“We’re going to be as cooperative as necessary, to the fullest extent,” she said at a news conference near the site.
Cantrell said city officials visited Sunday with the only injured person who remained hospitalized, suffering from a leg injury.