A plan to use explosives to topple two giant cranes leaning precariously over the crumbled remains of a partially collapsed hotel must be delayed by a day, city officials said Saturday, saying that the cranes were more damaged than previously thought.

Officials said at a press conference that the demolition, scheduled for Saturday, will take place on Sunday, no earlier than noon. Fire Chief Tim McConnell said the delay was caused by the damage to the cranes.

“As they got up and got closer they found out some things about it that have changed the way they are going to take it down, some of the methodology they are going to use, and that’s going to take a little longer for them to accomplish,” he said. “The cranes are more damaged than they thought.”

Fire department pesonnel stand by as workers prepare two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Authorities plan to blow up the two towering construction cranes that have become unstable at the site of the collapsed hotel. They hope to bring down the cranes with series of small controlled blasts just ahead of approaching tropical weather. The mayor has imposed a state of emergency to seize property and force people out if necessary. They hope to avoid more damage to gas and power lines and historic buildings. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Fire department pesonnel stand by as workers prepare two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The towers — one around 270 feet (82 meters) high, the other about 300 feet (91 meters) — weigh tons and have loomed over the wreckage for a week. The Hard Rock Hotel under construction at the corner of Canal and Rampart Streets at the corner of the historic French Quarter partially collapsed Oct. 12, killing three workers. Two bodies remain in the unstable wreckage and Mayor LaToya Cantrell said recovering the remains would be a top priority once the area was rendered safe.

If the plans succeed, the towers will drop vertically, sparing neighboring structures that include the Saenger Theatre and the New Orleans Athletic Club, both built in the 1920s. Officials said shelter would be provided for anyone needing it as a result of an evacuation around the site.

In a still-wider area, traffic was to be prohibited and people would be ordered to stay indoors until the demolition is complete and an all-clear is given.

A ship floats on the Mississippi River by the Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The Hard Rock Hotel partially collapsed last week. (Sophia Germer/The Advocate via AP)
A ship floats on the Mississippi River by the Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The Hard Rock Hotel partially collapsed last week. (Sophia Germer/The Advocate via AP)

Officials said Saturday that they would give residents who needed to evacuate four hours notice ahead of the planned demolition. Cantrell also said she would not authorize the use of explosives during the night.

Officials have repeatedly stressed that fluidity of the situation and that they are adjusting as necessary, depending on the information they are getting from experts brought in to help develop a plan to take down the looming cranes.

“We’ve told you that this is a very dangerous building. The cranes are still in a precarious situation,” McConnell said. He said at least one of the cranes was leaning more Saturday morning than it was the day before.

Firemen walk on Canal street in a barricaded area by the Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The Hard Rock Hotel partially collapsed last week. (Sophia Germer/The Advocate via AP)/
Firemen walk on Canal street in a barricaded area by the Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The Hard Rock Hotel partially collapsed last week. (Sophia Germer/The Advocate via AP)/

“It shifted and didn’t come back, which tells me it’s weakening,” he said.

On Saturday, workers suspended in a basket held by a crane could be seen high over the wreckage, working on the cranes. Down below, streets in one of the busiest parts of town had been closed off and tents set up in the center of Canal Street where the city’s famous red street cars usually roll back and forth.

Dozens of tourists, employees and local residents were milling around on the street, taking photos. But officials have said repeatedly that they do not want people to come downtown to watch the demolition in person.

Workers go up to inspect the two unstable cranes before implosion at the Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The Hard Rock Hotel partially collapsed last week. (Sophia Germer/The Advocate via AP)/
Workers go up to inspect the two unstable cranes before implosion at the Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The Hard Rock Hotel partially collapsed last week. (Sophia Germer/The Advocate via AP)/

“We prefer people to not be out here when this thing happens,” McConnell said. “It’s a dangerous operation.”

Experts, including engineers who worked on demolitions following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, were called in to try to come up with a plan to clear the site and prevent further injury and damage before the cranes fell on their own.

Heightening the urgency was the approach of Tropical Storm Nestor, which formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday but the storm ended up tracking well east of the city.

Pedestrians walk on Canal street near the Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The Hard Rock Hotel partially collapsed last week leaving many workers injured, 3 confirmed dead. (Sophia Germer/The Advocate via AP)/
Pedestrians walk on Canal street near the Hard Rock Hotel construction site in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The Hard Rock Hotel partially collapsed last week leaving many workers injured, 3 confirmed dead. (Sophia Germer/The Advocate via AP)/

On Thursday, officials announced plans to attach explosives to the structures. Once planned for Friday, the demolition was pushed back to Saturday before being pushed back again to Sunday. Intermittent wind and rain Friday hampered the preparations as workers in buckets were suspended high over the disaster site but by Saturday, the skies had cleared.

The cause of the collapse remains unknown. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating and, Cantrell and McConnell said, evidence gathering began soon after the collapse.

Lawsuits are already being filed on behalf of some of the more than 20 people injured against the project’s owners and contractors.

Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Plans have been pushed back a day to bring down two giant, unstable construction cranes in a series of controlled explosions before they can topple onto historic New Orleans buildings, the city's fire chief said Friday, noting the risky work involved in placing explosive on the towers. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Plans have been pushed back a day to bring down two giant, unstable construction cranes in a series of controlled explosions before they can topple onto historic New Orleans buildings, the city’s fire chief said Friday, noting the risky work involved in placing explosive on the towers. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Workers begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.  Plans have been pushed back a day to bring down two giant, unstable construction cranes in a series of controlled explosions before they can topple onto historic New Orleans buildings, the city's fire chief said Friday, noting the risky work involved in placing explosive on the towers. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Authorities plan to blow up the two towering construction cranes that have become unstable at the site of the collapsed hotel. They hope to bring down the cranes with series of small controlled blasts just ahead of approaching tropical weather. The mayor has imposed a state of emergency to seize property and force people out if necessary. They hope to avoid more damage to gas and power lines and historic buildings. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Authorities plan to blow up the two towering construction cranes that have become unstable at the site of the collapsed hotel. They hope to bring down the cranes with series of small controlled blasts just ahead of approaching tropical weather. The mayor has imposed a state of emergency to seize property and force people out if necessary. They hope to avoid more damage to gas and power lines and historic buildings. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.  Plans have been pushed back a day to bring down two giant, unstable construction cranes in a series of controlled explosions before they can topple onto historic New Orleans buildings, the city's fire chief said Friday, noting the risky work involved in placing explosive on the towers.
 (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Plans have been pushed back a day to bring down two giant, unstable construction cranes in a series of controlled explosions before they can topple onto historic New Orleans buildings, the city’s fire chief said Friday, noting the risky work involved in placing explosive on the towers. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.  Plans have been pushed back a day to bring down two giant, unstable construction cranes in a series of controlled explosions before they can topple onto historic New Orleans buildings, the city's fire chief said Friday, noting the risky work involved in placing explosive on the towers.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Plans have been pushed back a day to bring down two giant, unstable construction cranes in a series of controlled explosions before they can topple onto historic New Orleans buildings, the city's fire chief said Friday, noting the risky work involved in placing explosive on the towers.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers prepare two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers prepare two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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