05/01/2012 01:09 EDT | Updated 07/01/2012 05:12 EDT

Water leak shuts down Vancouver office tower

A water leak on the 18th floor of the Bentall Three tower in downtown Vancouver shut down large parts of the building and caused extensive damage to the prestigious office tower on Tuesday.

Several hundred people gathered on the sidewalk outside the building at the intersection of Burrard and Dunsmuir streets, and water could be seen leaking into the Bank of Montreal on the ground floor at about 8:30 a.m. PT.

Officials said a coupling broke on a waterpipe on the 18th floor and crews with about two dozen restoration vans were on site working to pump out and vacuum up the water. As much as five centimetres of water was reported on some of the floors.

Those showing up for work at the 32-storey office tower were told the first 18 floors of the building were closed, but workers could use the stairs to reach offices above the 18th floor.

A limited number of officer workers were allowed access to the flooded floors in order to check on computer servers, but many of the affected workers were making plans to work off-site for the day.

The building was constructed in 1974 and is one of five Bentall towers at the centre of Vancouver's downtown core.