CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- New York building officials have issued emergency work orders to stabilize a historic synagogue and its neighboring structures after an illicit underground tunnel was discovered at the sanctuary earlier this week.
The illegal tunnel connecting the Chabad-Lubavitch global headquarters to a neighboring building was about 60 feet long and 8 feet wide and was not sufficiently reinforced, compromising the stability of parts of two buildings.
The owners of 770 Eastern Parkway were ordered to fortify the structure and temporarily vacate parts of the buildings after the excavation work to create the tunnel caused structural issues.
Concrete was poured into the areas of concern on Wednesday night "to shore up the damaged walls," in coordination with city inspectors.
The neighboring two-story building on Kingston Avenue was also ordered vacated because of fire concerns.
The Department of Buildings issued two violations of work conducted without a permit.
The property is a deeply revered site that each year receives thousands of visitors, including international students and religious leaders. Its Gothic Revival facade, immediately recognizable to adherents of the Chabad movement, has inspired dozens of replicas across the world.
Officials and locals said young men in the community recently built the tunnel in secret. When the group's leaders tried to seal it off Monday, supporters of the tunnel staged a protest that turned violent as police moved in to make arrests.
Rabbi Motti Seligson, a spokesperson for Chabad, characterized the tunnel as a rogue act of vandalism committed by a group of misguided young men, and condemned the "extremists who broke through the wall to the synagogue, vandalizing the sanctuary, in an effort to preserve their unauthorized access."
Those who supported the tunnel, meanwhile, said they were carrying out an "expansion" plan long envisioned by the former head of the Chabad movement, Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)