Demolition of the earthquake damaged building at 61 Molesworth Street in Wellington is unlikely to begin today.

The building was damaged in last week's 7.8 magnitude earthquake and has been at risk of collapse since then.

This week, a demolition contractor has brought in an 85 tonne excavator as preparation work begins to tear the building down, a process which could take a couple of weeks.

A Wellington City Council spokesman said it might be one or two days before the actual demolition began, because gas, power, and other utilities needed to be switched off first.

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This could take longer than usual "because obviously they don't want to go too close to a dangerous building if they don't have to", the spokesman said.

If work went particularly quickly some "preliminary" demolition might begin tomorrow, he said.