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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Thousands evacuated for second time in days as cracks raise fears $165m tower in Sydney will collapse

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A moving building is continuing to cause alarm in Australia.

Residents who reported “cracking” noises in a recently completed Sydney high-rise apartment block have been evacuated for a second time this week.

Two-thirds of those who live in the 36-story apartment high-rise at Sydney’s Olympic Park had to find alternative accommodation for Christmas, some sleeping in their cars.

Engineers are said to be working round the clock to fix problems found on the 10th floor.

The more than 3,000 people living in or near the Opal Tower complex were previously evacuated on Monday after residents reported the cracks and firefighters and engineers entered to determine whether the building is in danger of collapse.

Experts using sensitive monitoring equipment determined the $165m building, completed in August, had moved between 1 and 2 millimetres, according to police Detective Superintendent Philip Rogerson.

Police reportedly had to use heavy equipment to force open doors to allow residents to escape. An exclusion zone with a radius of 1km was established around the building, forcing the evacuation of neighboring buildings and the closure of roads and a train station.

New South Wales police said in a statement that the alarm was raised by residents who reported hearing “cracking noises” throughout the morning.

The tower, which looms over the central site of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, has 392 apartments, a retail area and a childcare centre.

Water and gas services were shut off and the tower was being isolated from the power grid, Wright said.

Meriton, the operator of the neighboring building, said in an email to residents that there was “potential for the tower to collapse.”

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