Shocking images inside cracking Opal Tower
A FIRST ook inside the Opal Towers shows worrying plaster destruction and cracking in the walls of the building.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal photographs of plaster crumbling off the wall on level 10, and where possible structural cracks forced a mass evacuation of the Olympic Park building.
Large cracks, seen running vertically along the wall, were examined by structural engineers yesterday, who were called in to assess the integrity of the internal support wall.
Laser monitors detected no further movement from the building.
The Daily Telegraph understands the cracks had appeared in a precast panel which had been manufactured off-site. It is understood an outer face of concrete came under pressure and a layer came off. The concrete transfers load, or weight, to the structural column. The cracks are reportedly all on a panel on level 10, but there are 51 units which have a line to that panel.
Completed just four months ago, Opal was developed by Ecove - a company which has built three other towers nearby in Sydney Olympic Park.
It is also building a structure in Hyde Park.
Olympic diver Brittany O'Brien's father was one of the residents evacuated on Christmas Eve following loud cracking noises.
"My dad's building was evacuated due to cracking noises heard and fears the building would collapse," she said.
"There were other residents with dogs stuck inside, they were very stressed."
Kiwi tourist Narissa Knight was left stranded outside in her bikini when sirens started blaring in the nearby building her family was staying in on Monday afternoon.
The 20-year-old had been swimming in the pool but was forced to evacuate.
"We couldn't get anything - I was there in my bikini and no shoes on, nothing," she told The Daily Telegraph.
"I was walking through the mall and I'm like, 'oh my God, I have my towel around me.'
"It was so embarrassing," Ms Knight said.
"We had a Christmas Eve feast at KFC," Ms Knight's father David said.
Another resident, John, only had time to put on his slippers before heading to the emergency centre where he spent the night bonding with neighbours.
Mohamed El Dardiry, an architect, was ordered to leave a neighbouring building but managed to sneak back inside to get the Christmas gifts for his three children.
TERROR HITS NEW HEIGHTS
THE entire western side of a Sydney Olympic Park tower evacuated on Christmas Eve amid fears it would collapse remained blocked off.
About 300 terrified residents were rushed out of the new building on Monday after huge cracks appeared on the 10th floor of the 36-storey building.
Police initially said the high-rise building had shifted about two millimetres, but it is understood it has now been found there was no movement in the high-rise.
While about two-thirds of the building's residents were able to return, there were dozens whose apartments were still deemed unsafe and forced to stay in alternative accommodation.
"Fifty-one units have been declared structurally unsafe," a police spokesman said.
More than 24 hours after the disaster struck, authorities were still unclear on what had happened to cause the building's damage or who was responsible. Checks are being carried out to see if there is any possible structural damage.
A spokesman for Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said he had ordered the Planning Department to urgently investigate the matter and to "report to him what steps were taken to ensure the structural integrity of the building."
A planning spokesman said their focus was on "urgently investigating" the building's compliance.
Completed just four months ago, Opal was developed by Ecove - a company which has built three other towers nearby in Sydney Olympic Park. It is also building a structure in Hyde Park.
The Opal Tower had been approved by the NSW Department of Planning in 2015 because it was considered a "state significant development".
One of the approval conditions was that a structural report be submitted to the satisfaction of a building certifier. The Daily Telegraph understands the cracks had appeared in a precast panel which had been manufactured off-site.
It is understood an outer face of concrete came under pressure and a layer came off. The concrete transfers load, or weight, to the structural column.
The cracks are reportedly all on a panel on level 10, but there are 51 units which have a line to that panel.
A resident named Yogi said he was planning on moving out of the building after the drama.
"It definitely has taken that Christmas spirit away." he said.
A spokeswoman for Ecove said affected residents would be reimbursed for the money they had to spend on hotels.
STRANDED RESIDENTS FACING HEFTY HOLIDAY HITS
A THIRD of residents forced to evacuate from a Sydney Olympic Park high-rise on Christmas Eve remain stranded after their apartments were deemed unsafe.
After being initially taken to an evacuation centre, many had to book hotels at peak season holiday rates.
Delsa Daryai, who lives in one of the 51 units, was forced to leave with her mum and daughter after hearing a "really bad noise". She doesn't know when she will return.
"After we were evacuated I ran out of the building like everyone," she said. "We were told we cannot stay overnight at our place and last night they emailed us, so I booked a hotel which cost me $250."
Lanie Devera slept in her car with her daughter, 12, while their dog, Coco, was trapped in their apartment.
They were let back in yesterday and planned to have Christmas lunch at home. "It's not safe but of course we have to stay," she said.
"At least we're together."
Building management last night emailed residents to confirm that two structural engineers had approved the building safe for all but 51 apartments. Those residents would have temporary accommodation arranged.