SYDNEY (AP) — Some residents have been able to return to their apartments in a 36-story Sydney high-rise evacuated a day earlier when cracking was heard and an internal support wall failed.
Around 3,000 people were evacuated Monday from the newly opened Opal Tower overlooking Sydney's Olympic Park as emergency services set up a 1-kilometer (.6-mile) exclusion zone and engineers examined the building amid fears it might collapse.
Cracks were found in walls on the 10th floor, and 51 apartments were declared unsafe. Police escorted residents of those apartments back inside to retrieve belongings but they have been forced to spend Christmas in other accommodations.
Shortly after midnight, police allowed residents of the remainder of the building's 392 apartments to return home.
New South Wales Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Julie Boon told reporters an internal support wall failed.
"It's been a particularly frustrating time for residents and we're very aware they are keen to go home the night before Christmas," Boon said. "This is a large building and it's critical the safety of the residents comes first."
The $165 million building had been completed in August. Some residents said they would likely not return because they did not feel safe.
Resident Lisa Bridgett, who was evacuated with her two children, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation it was not the Christmas she envisaged.
"It's just my kids are at that age where it's really exciting and the little things you do on Christmas Eve like putting the cookies out for Santa . and all that sort of stuff they're going to miss out on," she said. "I'm really sad for them that they're going to miss out this year."
Engineers and building managers were continuing to monitor the situation Tuesday.