Quake-hit Christchurch cathedral to be demolished

Last Updated: Friday, March 2, 2012 - 16:39

Wellington: Christchurch`s Anglican cathedral
will be demolished after suffering major damage in the
earthquakes that rocked the New Zealand city over the past
year, church officials said on Friday.

The spire of the 131-year-old cathedral, a symbol of the
South Island city, collapsed in the February 2011 quake that
killed 185 people, with the structure sustaining further
damage in subsequent quakes in June and December.

Bishop Victoria Matthews said the cost of saving the
cathedral was "staggering" -- an estimated NZ USD 50 million
(USD 42 million) to rebuild using existing parts of the
building or NZ USD 100 million for a complete reconstruction.

She said the cathedral remained too dangerous to enter
and the risk of more earthquakes in Christchurch meant
repairing the revered building was not an option.

"The cathedral will be deconstructed with the utmost care
and respect, while at the same time protecting the treasures
within its walls," she said.

"There will be no bulldozers or wrecking balls on the
job."

Matthews said that the first priority was to pull down
the walls to a level of about 2-3 metres (6.5-10 feet) so
artworks and other treasures could be safely removed.

She said the church was committed to creating "a
beautiful, inspiring, safe new cathedral" but no decision had
been made on where it would be built and what it would look
like.

The cathedral lies in the city centre "red zone", the
worst-hit area during the quakes, which remains off-limits to
the public because the risk of falling masonry makes it too
dangerous to enter.

The cathedral`s future had been the subject of heated
debate in Christchurch, with some arguing it should be saved
at any cost as a symbol of the city`s endurance after its
earthquake ordeal.

Christchurch city councillor Aaron Keown vowed to stop
the demolition and said there was widespread support for his
position in the community.

PTI



First Published: Friday, March 2, 2012 - 16:39

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