Video showed the cranes tumbling down on Sunday after strategically placed explosives detonated not long after 2:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. ET).
Warning horns were heard blaring moments before the construction cranes, which had towered over the damaged construction site, snapped into pieces and toppled.
One of the cranes was seen falling to the ground amid plumes of smoke and debris generated by the explosion. Sections of the second crane could still be seen hanging over the top of the damaged building once the smoke cleared.
Portions of the Hard Rock Hotel, which has been under construction at the edge of the city’s historic French Quarter, collapsed October 12. Three people were killed, although only one body has been recovered, and 30 injured.
At a news conference, city officials said they were satisfied with the demolition.
“We know that we are safer now than we have been in the past eight days,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said.
The next step is removing two victims in the debris, Cantrell said. Search teams placed a monitor near one of the bodies to help teams “identify and pull him out of rubble as soon as possible,” Cantrell said.
McConnell said initial assessments suggest both victims remain in the same positions as they were before the demolition. The demolition was designed to make the cranes fall away from the bodies, he said.
“We’re going to have to pull a lot of debris that’s hanging overhead to get to them,” McConnell said. “But we will succeed, trust me.”
After the bodies are recovered, the next step will be “full demolition,” Cantrell said.
Giant cloud of dust
More than 100 construction workers were at the site when the collapse occurred, according to one of the construction companies.
Video footage showed workers emerging from a giant cloud of dust after the upper floors collapsed and debris filled the street.
Crews had hoped to bring the cranes down Friday evening, but that plan was delayed over fears of high winds from Tropical Storm Nestor, officials said.
An evacuation order was put in effect for areas around the site Sunday morning.
CNN’s Amir Vera and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.
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