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|The Hard Rock Hotel partially collapsed onto Canal Street downtown New Orleans, Louisiana on Oct 12, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Emily Kask)|
Video of the collapse was widely shared on social media and the fire department posted photos of the aftermath showing crumpled floors and tangles of broken construction materials.
One person died at the scene, according to Fire Chief Timothy McConnell, who added that the building is now structurally unstable.
"Another collapse is possible," he told reporters at the construction site.
Firefighters evacuated construction workers inside the hotel after the "upper six to eight" floors collapsed, McConnell said.
Emergency medical services director Emily Nichols said that first responders evaluated 19 people at the scene, 18 of whom were transported to hospitals and are in stable condition.
Local media said three people were missing and emergency services were using rescue dogs and drones to search for any more victims.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards urged residents and visitors alike to avoid the area.
"This remains a very fluid and very dangerous situation," he told reporters at the scene. "Every few minutes something is falling off of this building."
Due to the hotel's unstable structure, the operation to clear the area is ongoing, according to local Homeland Security office director Collin Arnold.
Hard Rock International said it was to be the future manager of the hotel and has no involvement in its construction.
"We want to extend our deepest sympathies to victims of this tragic accident and to their loved ones and friends," the company said in a statement.
The fire department is working to evacuate nearby buildings, particularly apartment complexes.