Hundreds of residents fled for their lives after cracking sounds coming from a high rise sparked fears the building could collapse.
More than 200 residents of Opal Tower in Sydney Olympic Park were evacuated along with more than 3,000 from nearby buildings.
Residents said they heard loud cracking sounds about 2.45pm coming from the 10th floor and began to rush outside.
Scroll down for video
Hundreds of residents have fled for their lives after cracking sounds coming from the roof of their high rise sparked fears the building will collapse at any moment
More than 200 residents of Opal Tower in Sydney Olympic Park were evacuated
Police then arrived and evacuated the rest of the residents. The 117m tower contains 392 units along with a childcare centre and other amenities.
Firefighter search and rescue teams and public works engineers are inside the 34-storey building assessing it after a huge crack was found in its structure.
NSW Fire Acting Superintendent Greg Wright said they would ‘determine if the building is safe to inhabit or if any other remedial works are required’.
He hoped to have completed this process in several hours and know if and when residents could return to their homes.
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
‘We don’t know (when that will be) until the engineers assess the building and find out what caused the issue – or if there’s a major issue with the building,’ he said.
NSW Police Detective Superintendent Philip Rogerson said the building, which was only completed in March, 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.
Police said an emergency services operation is underway after concerns were raised for the structural integrity of the 30-storey Opal Tower (pictured) at Sydney Olympic Park
Residents were left stranded in the park nearby, not knowing how long it would be until they were able to return to their homes
More than 3,000 people in nearby buildings were also told to leave and those coming home were not allowed back inside.
They included 55 children in a childcare centre who were moved elsewhere and later released to their families.
The operator of the nearby Botania tower told its residents in an email: ‘there is a potential for the tower to collapse, a 1km radius has been evacuated’.
Residents were left stranded in the park nearby, not knowing how long it would be until they were able to return to their homes.
Many will spend the night in Sydney Showground’s Exhibition Hall 4 and await news of whether they can return for Christmas.
A resident stands on her balcony as evacuations began. She was one of about 140 who left the building under police orders
Police and fire fighters shut off the water and gas and took it off the power grid, and will use specialist equipment designed to monitor the building for any more movement using lasers
Police said when it was safe to do so they would, with the help of the RSPCA, begin rescuing pets that were left behind in the evacuation.
Trains running between Lidcombe and Olympic Park were cancelled as a precaution but buses are replacing them.
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.
Residents mill around outside the building and ask police about when they will be able to go back inside
Police and firefighters are assessing the structural integrity of the building and taped off several blocks in a 250m radius around it