NEW ORLEANS (NBC NEWS)- One person was killed and two others are missing after a Hard Rock Hotel under construction in New Orleans collapsed Saturday morning.
The city’s fire department received a call about the collapse just after 9 a.m. Police and emergency medical services also responded.
One person was pronounced dead at the site, a fire official said during a news conference.
“It’s a very dangerous situation,” Fire Superintendent Timothy McConnell said, adding that the building is “unstable,” and another collapse is possible.
The fire department evacuated several buildings near the hotel.
Eighteen people were taken to the hospital in stable condition. EMS Director Emily Nichols said at a news conference Saturday afternoon that some of them have been released and several others transported themselves to the hospital. One person who was injured refused medical treatment.
Authorities initially said three people were unaccounted for but one has since been located. Nichols said that person arrived at the hospital on their own.
A search-and-rescue team is preparing to enter the building to try and locate the two missing people, who are workers at the construction site. McConnell said he believes one of them is in an area that “is not stable.”
The upper floors of the building began to fall on top of each other before one side of the building fell to the ground below, The Associated Press reported.
“This remains a very fluid and very dangerous situation, and every few minutes something is falling off of this building,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a news conference Saturday morning.
The city’s fire department posted photos on Twitter showing the roof and several floors partially destroyed with a large pile of debris scattered on the street below.
Witnesses recounted the moment the building collapsed.
Fallon Leigh O’Brien said she was riding on a streetcar near the hotel when debris started falling.
“It looked like sheetrock. A few pieces first, and then the whole building started to fall,” she said. “All of a sudden the entire intersection was engulfed in dust and debris, and people were coughing.”
Carl Cole said he initially mistook the sound of the falling hotel for a low-flying airplane.
“We were kind of shocked when we realized what had happened,” he said. “Then you look at how much concrete and rubble and you were concerned for the laborers, the hard hats in there.”