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Sydney Olympic Park Opal Tower: Residents evacuated on Christmas Eve

Scores of residents who were evacuated from a ‘creaking’ Sydney Olympic Park high-rise overnight woke up on Christmas morning in a makeshift camp.

About 300 people from more than 150 units in the 392-apartment Opal Tower were evacuated amidst fears the brand-new high rise could collapse.

Engineers and the building’s managers remained at the 34-storey building overnight, declaring that 51 units were structurally unsafe. 

Residents of the impacted units were escorted back to gather their belongings. 

A handful of them were left to sleep on the concrete ground in a temporary shelter at the nearby Royal Agricultural Society, while others made their own arrangements.

 

Some Opal Tower residents were allowed to return home just after midnight on Christmas Eve

Affected Opal Tower residents were escorted by emergency services to their unsafe units to collect their possessions before relocating to alternative accommodation

Affected Opal Tower residents were escorted by emergency services to their unsafe units to collect their possessions before relocating to alternative accommodation

 They were forced to leave amidst fears the 34-storey high-rise building could collapse

 They were forced to leave amidst fears the 34-storey high-rise building could collapse

Emergency services were called to the site on Monday afternoon following reports residents had heard loud cracking sounds coming from the 10th floor. 

Police then arrived and evacuated the rest of the residents. The 117m tower contains 392 units along with a childcare centre and other amenities.

Some residents said the doors to the building were jammed and police had to break them down with heavy equipment to help residents escape.

One also claimed they could hear movement in the building during strong winds.  

handful of residents were left to sleep on the concrete ground in a temporary shelter at the nearby Royal Agricultural Society

handful of residents were left to sleep on the concrete ground in a temporary shelter at the nearby Royal Agricultural Society

Residents of the impacted units were escorted back to gather their belongings

Residents of the impacted units were escorted back to gather their belongings

NSW Police Detective Superintendent Philip Rogerson said the building, which was only completed in March and opened in August, had moved one to two millimetres. 

The tower was being monitored with specialist laser monitoring equipment to detect any movement, but none had been recorded since the crack opened. 

Fire crews shut off the water and gas and took the building off the power grid while police taped off a 250m radius.   

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.      

Emergency crews remained on the scene late on Christmas Ever, amid fears it may collapse

Emergency crews remained on the scene late on Christmas Ever, amid fears it may collapse

Some residents made alternative living arrangements after 51 units were declared unsafe

Some residents made alternative living arrangements after 51 units were declared unsafe

 About 100 people were stranded in a temporary shelter at the nearby Royal Agricultural Society building as they waited for the all clear from authorities

 About 100 people were stranded in a temporary shelter at the nearby Royal Agricultural Society building as they waited for the all clear from authorities

Just after midnight on Christmas Day, residents of the units that had been declared safe were allowed to return home. 

But many people claimed they have been left in the dark, having received no information from emergency crews about when they might be able to return home.  

‘We’ve been told nothing. We don’t know how long we will be stuck here, maybe until tomorrow,’ one group told Daily Mail Australia.

‘We weren’t even in the tower, we live nearby and just know what’s on the news. It’s very frustrating.’ 

Firefighter search and rescue teams and public works engineer  assessed the 34-storey building after a huge crack was found in its structure

Firefighter search and rescue teams and public works engineer  assessed the 34-storey building after a huge crack was found in its structure

People sat on what few chairs were available and if they were lucky, used a table to eat or play cards on Christmas Eve night

People sat on what few chairs were available and if they were lucky, used a table to eat or play cards on Christmas Eve night

The situation was far worse for residents in the impacted 51 units, many of whom were forced to book accommodation on their smart phones while authorities dithered for several hours.

Others who opted to stay the night at the makeshift camp sat on the few chairs available and if they were lucky, used a table to eat or play cards.

One group somehow found a couch and one of them took a nap on it, but others had to sit on the hard concrete floor.   

Fire & Rescue NSW superintendent Adam Dewberry told AAP 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.

He said a local exclusion zone remained in the area of Opal Tower but all roads and public transport had returned to normal. 

There are no longer concerns of the tower collapsing, police say.  

More than 3,000 people in nearby buildings were also told to leave and those coming home were not allowed back inside 

More than 3,000 people in nearby buildings were also told to leave and those coming home were not allowed back inside 

Police and firefighters stand guard outside the exclusion zone they set up to keep people away

Police and firefighters stand guard outside the exclusion zone they set up to keep people away

Police said an emergency services operation was underway after concerns were raised for the structural integrity of the 34-storey Opal Tower (pictured) at Sydney Olympic Park

Police said an emergency services operation was underway after concerns were raised for the structural integrity of the 34-storey Opal Tower (pictured) at Sydney Olympic Park

Opal Tower is only months old 

The 117m Opal tower has 392 apartments over 34 storeys along with a childcare centre and other businesses and amenities.

Brand new high rise was built alongside numerous other similar blocks in Olympic Park as it transforms into a major population centre.

The building was only completed in March and opened in August, and cost $165 million to build by developer Ecove, which built many of the others nearby.

Two-bedroom apartments are on sale for $934,000 and one bedrooms for $620,000.  

Opal Tower is one of several new apartment towers in Olympic Park and cost $165 million to build.

It was developed by Ecove, which also built many other new towers in the suburb along with One30 Hyde Park tower in the Sydney CBD.

Two-bedroom apartments are on sale for $934,000 and one bedrooms for $620,000. 

‘We are aware of the concerns that have arisen with the Opal Building and confirm that the builder has been notified,’ Ecove said.

The tower was designed by architecture firm Bates Smart and built by Icon Construction. 

A resident stands on her balcony as evacuations began. She was one of about 140 who left the building under police orders

A resident stands on her balcony as evacuations began. She was one of about 140 who left the building under police orders

Residents milled around outside the building on Monday afternoon, asking police about when they will be able to go back inside

Residents milled around outside the building on Monday afternoon, asking police about when they will be able to go back inside

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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