Sunday, 18 August, 2019

Christmas Emergency: High rise evacuated after wall fails

No caption Opal Tower apartment building
Patty Aguilar | 26 December, 2018, 09:25

More than 3,000 people living in or near a 36-story apartment high-rise at Sydney's Olympic Park were evacuated Monday after residents reported hearing cracking noises.

Hundreds of people in the 38-storey Opal Tower in Sydney Olympic Park and other nearby buildings were told to leave their homes yesterday after reports of such noises.

Loud cracking sounds were heard at 2.45pm from the 10th floor today, prompting calls to the police who arrived at the 117m tower which contains 392 units along with a childcare centre and other amenities.

Aerial footage by Seven Network showed fire crews setting up tents while police redirect traffic and pedestrians.

Exclusion zones are in place, it said, while it is on scene with specialist equipment created to monitor the building for any more movement. It was unclear when those residents would be allowed back into the building, with a temporary shelter set up at a nearby hall.

Many evacuated Opal Tower residents sought refuge at a nearby park.

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Fire & Rescue NSW Urban Search and Rescue officers and specialist engineers, as well as the building's designers and managers, worked late into the night to assess the building.

But 51 units have been declared structurally unsafe.

The Fire and Rescue NSW superintendent, Adam Dewberry, said the strata manager would be working with the insurer and builders to fix the issue, but he wasn't sure what work would be happening on Tuesday. A resident of the building told the Australian Corporation he had noticed changes to the doors earlier. "A few days ago the doors looked different, like they couldn't close properly". In addition, you could feel when the Wind is strong, like the building was moving.

A large crack was found on the 10th floor of the building, with emergency services and engineers monitoring the situation overnight, with initial fears of a building collapse.

It was developed by Ecove, which also erected the One30 Hyde Park tower in Sydney.

The $165 million building had been completed in August.

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