Car park collapses at Sydney mall

Last updated 12:09 24/07/2012
Sydney carpark
PARTIAL COLLAPSE: An image of the collapse posted on Twitter.

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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.'' 

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- AAP

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