Demolition of quake-damaged buildings fast-tracked due to further risk

The damage caused by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 14 November is evident along the 100km route from Culverden to Kaikoura. Photo/supplied
The damage caused by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 14 November is evident along the 100km route from Culverden to Kaikoura. Photo/supplied

The demolition of three buildings in Wellington will be brought forward in light of last week's 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

Two of the buildings are on land between Cable St and Wakefield St that the Wellington City Council bought as the site for the proposed Movie Museum and Convention Centre.

Recovery programme manager Mike Mendonca said the buildings have been targeted for demolition as part of the site clearance for the museum and centre, but the decision has been made to bring the work forward as the buildings suffered structural damage and risk collapsing in another strong quake.

The buildings have been fenced off and "walk-through" shipping containers will be placed around them tomorrow for public protection. Demolition preparation may start as early as next week.

In Karori, the council-owned St John's Church hall on the corner of Karori Rd and Campbell St will also be demolished in the next fortnight or so.

The 1960s building was unoccupied and had been damaged in the 2013 quakes. It is showing signs of further stress from the November 14 quake.

The council's medium-term intention has been to demolish the building to clear the site for sale to help raise funds for the construction of the new Karori Community Centre.

Meanwhile a council spokesman has said there is "a likelihood" PrimeProperty Group will face prosecution for illegally allowing tenants to live in the building at 61 Molesworth St in central Wellington.

Richard Maclean said the council would make a decision on whether to lay charges later, but were currently prioritising earthquake clean-up.

Revelations the company had been illegally renting out another building in Wakefield St may have an impact on the decision, with Maclean saying the council would consider all the information before it.

The council received a complaint in September about people living in the former Greater Wellington Regional Council building, which suffered damage in the 2013 earthquakes.

The tenants illegally renting office space to live in at 61 Molesworth St will be unable to retrieve their possessions before demolition begins on the significantly quake-damaged building.

Contractors began yesterday knocking down an adjacent podium to make room for the high-reach crane which would be needed to begin deconstructing the building from the top down.

Council spokesman Clayton Anderson said if all went to plan, demolition of the main building would begin on Saturday.

Elsewhere in Wellington, the Asteron building in Featherston St was evacuated on Wednesday after concerns were raised about damage to the stairwell, which could cause trouble for escaping workers in another strong shake.

The building suffered cracks in the 2013 earthquakes, which were replastered at the time. The cracks worsened in last week's quake.

Near Kaikoura, the area worst hit by the quake, Goose Bay residents were evacuated over fears a blockage caused by an upstream landslip may cause a nearby dam to burst.

The 17 people evacuated have been told to expect to be away from home for at least 10 days while Civil Defence monitors the situation.

The police presence in Kaikoura remains constant, with more than 25 police staff remaining in the area.

Teams are focusing on spending time with people in the community, making sure their needs are being met and checking they're okay, said Kaikoura police operations manager Inspector Jimi McGrogan.

Prime Minister John Key also flew in to quake country today for a quick visit.

Key met residents in Waiau and handed out toys to children at Waiau School.

Several of the children told Key how they were living in campervans or other houses after the quake.

Meanwhile most of the country's political reporters are being evacuated from their building at Parliament due to earthquake damage.

Reporters from the Herald, Newstalk ZB, Radio New Zealand, TVNZ and Fairfax are leaving after an engineer's report stated parts of the building meet just 20 per cent of the Building Code.

The building has been yellow-stickered as prone to earthquake damage since 2014.

Demolition of 61 Molesworth St in central Wellington has begun.

Wellington City Council gave the go ahead for contractors to start deconstructing a small building attached to the main office block yesterday afternoon.

- NZ Herald

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