New Orleans: Blasts demolish cranes as search for bodies begins in collapsed hotel

21 October 2019, 03:19 | Updated: 28 October 2019, 15:26

Controlled explosions have been set off to topple two cranes that had loomed precariously for days over a partially collapsed hotel in New Orleans.

Authorities in the southern US city will now focus on retrieving two bodies still inside the ruined building.

The explosions sent one crane crashing to the street, while the second fell in a way that left much of it resting on the ruined hotel building where officials said it was "stable" and could be removed in pieces.

New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell said: "We know that we are safer now than we have been in the past eight days."

The Hard Rock Hotel, which was under construction near the historic French Quarter, partially collapsed on 12 October.

Three workers died when several floors of the multi-storey building collapsed that day. Only one body could be removed in the days after the incident.

The two cranes were left badly damaged when the hotel's upper floors collapsed.

The cranes - one around 270ft high, the other about 300ft - weighed thousands of tonnes.

Officials in Louisiana had feared the towers would come down on their own, possibly smashing into nearby buildings or severely damaging underground gas and electric lines.

The cause of the collapse remains unknown.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating and, the city's mayor said evidence gathering began soon after the collapse.

Lawsuits are already being filed against the project's owners and contractors, on behalf of some of the more than 20 people injured.