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Hard Rock Hotel collapse will be demolished with two bodies inside

Cantrell said engineers have confirmed that the building must come down at some point and said she was trying to speed up the process.
Credit: Andres Fuentes

NEW ORLEANS — The bodies of two men killed in the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse will not be recovered before the building is demolished, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Tuesday. 

Officials believe they know where the bodies of 63-year-old Jose Ponce Arreola and 36-year-old Quinnyon Wimberly are inside the building, but crews have been unable to remove them because the site is still not safe.

Another victim of the Oct. 12 collapse, 49-year-old Anthony Magrette was recovered several days after parts of the building fell. 

Cantrell said engineers have confirmed that the building must come down at some point and said she was trying to speed up the process. 

"Things are moving forward towards a demolition," Cantrell said. "We have been able to determine that, yes, it could be done faster than that." 

She said even with a faster demolition timeline, her focus was recovering the remains of the two workers and returning them to their families. 

RELATED: Hard Rock workers, documents say shoring supports removed too soon

"What we do know is that after the demolition occurs part of the process is recovery," she said. "I have a commitment from the ownership that they will... go above and beyond to deliver for our people. That's what I'm expecting and absolutely requiring."

RELATED: Hard Rock hotel collapse: Investigation, Rescue & Recovery

City officials confirmed Wednesday that they have received the contract, selected by the site's developer, to demolish the building. 

Several weeks after the initial collapse, city crews demolished a pair of cranes that had been damaged by debris and were in danger of falling onto Rampart and Canal streets below. 

That controlled demolition allowed most residents and business owners evacuated around the site to return, but there is still a large area around the construction site blocked off to the public, including the Saenger Theater.


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