NYC issues vacate orders to stabilize synagogue and nearby buildings following discovery of 60-foot tunnel

NEW YORK — 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.

An investigation by the city’s Department of Buildings uncovered a tunnel that was 60-foot-long, 8-foot-wide and 5-foot-high located underneath the global headquarters of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, an important Jewish site. It extends under several buildings in the vicinity.

“As a result of this extensive investigation, we have issued emergency work orders to stabilize the buildings above the tunnel, vacate orders in parts of the buildings to ensure occupant safety, and enforcement actions against the property owners for the illegal work,” Andrew Rudansky, a spokesperson for the buildings department, said in an email to The Associated Press.

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.