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Crane explosion planned Saturday in New Orleans

Crane explosion planned Saturday in New Orleans”

New Orleans officials say they must delay plans to topple two cranes that had been looming precariously over the ruins of a partially collapsed hotel. The storm's forecast track was well east of the city but officials anxious wind from its outer bands could add to the threat of an uncontrolled fall of the cranes.

The most likely time for demolition will be around noon Saturday, although officials haven't ruled out doing it sooner. Both have continuously swayed since the under-construction building's collapse on October 12, which left three dead and dozens injured.

They hope to demolish the cranes with a series of controlled explosions that would drop them straight down without damaging gas and electricity lines and historic buildings.

Crews had hoped to take the cranes down Friday evening, said New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell.

Tropical Storm Nestor was tracking east and has potential to bring 35 miles per hour winds, said Collin Arnold, director of the city's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse.

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McConnell said an already wide evacuation area around the site would be expanded ahead of the explosion. "The cranes are still in a precarious situation". One body was recovered but the bodies of two construction workers remain in the unstable wreckage. A temporary relocation center was being set up for anyone needing it. People in the area also were warned to expect loud explosions.

"If you are in line of sight of this you are too close", said city Homeland Security director Collin Arnold. "The cranes are more damaged than they thought".

Experts, including some who brought down damaged buildings at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, have worked around the clock since Saturday to devise a means of safely bringing down the cranes.

It was not immediately clear what caused the collapse or if anyone was injured.

Documents and paperwork from the offices of contractors in the hotel have been collected and put in storage as evidence, Cantrell said.

Two law firms are filing a lawsuit against developers on behalf of 10 people injured, seeking unspecified damages.



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