Officials set off thundering explosions that toppled two cranes Sunday that had loomed precariously for days over a partially collapsed hotel in New Orleans, saying their controlled demolition went "exactly" as planned and efforts now would focus on retrieving two bodies still inside the ruined building, the AP reports. The fiery afternoon explosions sent up massive clouds of dust and sent one crane crashing to the street while the second fell in a way that left much of it resting atop the ruined hotel building where officials said it was "stable" and could be removed piecemeal. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell declared the demolition a success at a news conference.
"We know that we are safer now than we have been in the past eight days," she said, referring to the partial collapse Oct. 12 of the Hard Rock Hotel that was under construction near the historic French Quarter. Three workers had died when several floors of the multistory building pancaked that day. Only one body could be removed in the days after the collapse. The two construction cranes had been left badly damaged when the hotel's upper floors collapsed atop each. The cranes—one around 270 feet high, the other about 300 feet —weighed thousands of tons. 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.
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