Westfield’s flagship Bondi Junction shopping centre is one of the major victims of a storm that swept through Sydney today when part of the roof collapsed, forcing the partial evacuation of the centre.
Kurnell, to the city’s south, has born the brunt of the damage caused by tornado winds in excess of 210km/h, as well as golf ball-sized hail, with widespread damage and several homes losing a roof and even trucks overturned. The Cronulla Leagues Club became an evacuation centre for locals.
Residents in Kurnell are able to return home this afternoon, but police are controlling access to the area, which is currently without power and sewerage. Services may not be restored until Thursday.
A public meeting for residents is being held at Cronulla Leagues Club tonight at 7pm.
There was widespread flash flooding throughout the city and at Westfield Bondi Junction, the roof began leaking onto the centre floor before part of it collapsed outside the Zara store. There were no reports of injuries, but shoppers were evacuated from one half of the centre including the food court, Fitness First amid flooding and debris.
The moment the roof collapsed was captured by one shopper:
— kuppies82 (@kuppies82) December 16, 2015
— bon bon (@vonnepat) December 16, 2015
Westfield says the closed part will reopen at around 5pm and that the midnight screening of Star Wars will go ahead.
Half of stores closed at WF Bondi Junction to start reopening from 5pm. Star Wars midnight session will go ahead! Updates pending
— Westfield (@WestfieldAU) December 16, 2015
Dozen of flights were cancelled, delayed or diverted at Sydney airport and traffic chaos in the area saw travellers abandoning cars and walking to the airport worried that they would miss their flights.
As the storm subsided, the NSW Rural Fire Service flew over Kurnell, the place where Captain Cook first stepped foot on Australia, and this video footage shows the extent of the damage, with debris strewn across the oil refinery on the peninsula.
Several parts of the city’s east endured heavy flooding, including Rose Bay, Coogee, Bondi and Paddington.
The storm’s passage across Sydney was captured by one keen storm chaser:
— Engine4 (@enginefour) December 16, 2015
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