Retailers began opening their stores at a Sydney shopping centre oblivious to the possible danger of the building collapsing due to structural problems.
Fire and Rescue NSW said part of the car park at Westfield Eastgardens, in Pagewood, collapsed about 7am (local time) on Tuesday.Firefighters are worried the entire building will collapse if the concrete building panels above the shops move, creating a ''domino effect''.
A staff member at one store said she and other retailers had already opened their shops before they were evacuated.
''When I drove up I saw a lot of fire brigades and we drove in anyway and we saw part of a roof in the car park collapsed,'' evacuated staff member Sharon told the ABC.
''We went into the centre and everything seemed fine, so I went into my store and opened it up, until the evacuation siren went off.
''Then an undercover cop came out and told me to get all my staff and everyone needs to leave the building.
''Fire and Rescue NSW told AAP a second-level steel beam that supported the car park roofing had collapsed.The roof is also the ground floor of the food court, directly above 20 shops.
Initially, only people from the nearby shops were evacuated but the whole centre has since been closed.Authorities are now waiting for structural engineers to arrive.
Retailers and their staff have been advised not to enter the shopping centre.Former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, who was at Eastgardens, provided commentary on the collapse via Twitter.
''I'm at Westfield Eastgardens. Part of the centre has just collapsed. All inside being evacuated,'' she wrote on the micro blogging site.
''Lots of fire trucks. Near food court.''Ms Keneally later wrote: ''Was at shops, now home safe and well. Hope all actually caught up are ok.''