SYDNEY: Australia's building and construction codes came under scrutiny on Sunday (Jun 16) after hundreds of residents were evacuated from a high-rise Sydney apartment block where cracks were discovered in the second such scare in six months.
Some residents said they were left homeless and in tears after they were ordered to leave the 10-storey, 122-apartment Mascot Towers in a southern Sydney suburb late Friday after cracks were found in the structure's beams.
"At this stage, the engineers need to look at the cracks in those beams while the residents aren't there," Fire and Rescue New South Wales state Assistant Commissioner Roger Mentha told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"Then they can do an analysis on whether there have been any movements."
The incident at the 10-year-old building followed the Christmas Eve evacuation of residents in the recently completed 38-storey Opal Tower in the Sydney Olympic Park after "cracking noises" were heard.
Investigators found there were a number of "design and construction issues" that could have led to the damage that saw the structure move "one to two millimetres".
NSW, Australia's most populous state, said after a public outcry over the scare that it would embark on the "biggest overhaul of building laws" in its history.
The changes included appointing a building commissioner to audit work done throughout the design and construction process.
Peak body Engineers Australia said Saturday the state "has been slow to move, but it is not too late if we start now".
"The Mascot Towers situation is further evidence that we need changes in the building and construction sector," Engineers Australia's Jonathan Russell said in a statement.
"It shouldn't take a crisis for government to act in the interests of community safety and consumer protection."