Sydney residents evacuated from Opal Tower left to sleep on concrete

Christmas chaos at Sydney Olympic Park: Engineers declare 51 units in ‘creaking 34-storey’ apartment block unsafe – as evacuated residents are left to sleep on the ground overnight

  • Residents forced to flee 34-storey apartment complex at Sydney Olympic Park
  • Cracking sounds from roof sparked fears for Opal Tower’s structural integrity   
  • About 200 people were evacuated plus 3,000 from surrounding buildings 
  • Some Opal Tower residents allowed to return home early on Christmas Day
  • Others forced to make alternative arrangements after 51 units declared unsafe 

Dozens of Opal Tower residents will be homeless until after Boxing Day with their apartments deemed too dangerous to return to.

More than 200 residents of the Sydney Olympic Park high rise were evacuated on Monday afternoon along with more than 3,000 from nearby buildings.

Most of them were allowed to return to their homes after 12.30am on Tuesday but a huge crack in an internal wall meant 51 of the 392 units were still unsafe.

NSW Fire Service Superintendent Adam Dewberry said those apartments would be off limits for days to come, but didn’t know how long.

‘It’s not as if it’s going to be tomorrow or the next day because there needs to be an element of work done,’ he said.

‘Now it’s just how quickly that work can be done by the engineers to get in and get a really good thorough assessment.’

Some Opal Tower residents were allowed to return home just after midnight 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.

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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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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 

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

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

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

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