NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Plans are on again to implode a New Orleans hotel building that partially collapsed last fall, killing three workers, city officials said Friday.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell said at a news conference that the implosion is expected to take place in mid-March.
Implosion had been considered, then rejected in the weeks after the Oct. 12 collapse at the planned Hard Rock Hotel on Canal Street, at the edge of New Orleans' French Quarter.
But on Friday, officials said the implosion plan was back on. It was deemed safer than having workers dismantle the structure.
"Putting more people at risk, I cannot live with that and will not support that," Cantrell said.
And it will mean commerce and traffic can return to the area around the unstable building more quickly.
Implosion will also bring the building down ahead of hurricane season, which begins June 1. Demolition had been expected to last until December.
Three people died in the collapse. The remains of two workers remain in the wreckage and Cantrell said returning the remains to their families remains a priority.
Explosives already have been used at the site once. Two towering, multi-ton construction cranes were toppled in controlled blasts on Oct. 21 because they were in danger of falling.
Cantrell said the decision to implode the building was made in consultation with the project owners, insurers and families of the two workers whose remains have not yet been recovered.
She said the new plan means the remains, once recovered, will be more quickly turned over to the families. Cantrell said she envisions workers beginning efforts to extract remains from the wreckage "immediately after" the controlled implosion of the building.