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Two heritage buildings in central Christchurch are likely to be demolished this afternoon due to earthquake damage, says Christchurch City Council.

Manchester Courts, a seven-storey building on the corner of Hereford and Manchester Streets, is a category one historic place built in 1905-1906 that up until Saturday's earthquake, housed offices.

It was formerly known as the New Zealand Express Company Building and at the time of its construction was the tallest building in Christchurch.

According to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust register, the building "is significant as one of the earliest attempts at the Chicago skyscraper style in New Zealand".

Cecil House, on the corner of St Asaph and Manchester Streets, is a two-storey neo-classical style building constructed in 1877 that now houses the Country Theme furniture store.

The council says specific times for demolition are not yet known.

Demolition brings emotional response

News of the scheduled demolitions provoked an emotional response from people on Twitter.

"It's one of the single best, and architecturally most important buildings in the city," Cheryl Bernstein wrote in a tweet about the Manchester Courts building.

"It's one of the great buildings I always point out to visitors to the city," she wrote. "I feel like bursting into tears."

Robyn Gallagher said the building's demise would be a loss "not just for Christchurch, but for New Zealand."

Historic Deans family homestead severely damaged

The historic Deans family homestead in Homebush was severely damaged in Saturday's earthquake but no decisions have yet been made about whether it will be demolished.

The late nineteenth-century homestead, a category two historic place, has been in the early-settler Deans family for six generations.

Parts of 2005 movie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe were filmed at the sprawling property, which is a local tourist attraction.

The historic brick woolshed just a paddock away was left virtually unscathed.

Selwyn District Council environmental services manager John Christensen says the council has made a preliminary assessment of the damage to the homestead and has deemed it unsafe for occupation.

"It's now up to the owners to decide with their insurers what to do. From what I understand, the damage is very extensive so [attempts to restore it] could be problematic."

Engineers revisit Cathedral

Engineers revisited Christ Church Cathedral today after staff noticed minor cracks in the wake of the many aftershocks that have hit.

The Cathedral was initially thought to have fared well in the earthquake and engineers gave it a 'green' rating on inspection on Saturday, but revisited today as a precaution.

"We really don't know if anything has changed since Saturday," says Dean Peter Beck, "but we thought it wise to have the Cathedral checked again in the wake of the aftershocks. We are following the same processes hundreds of other city buildings are following."

Earthquake Commission claims

The Earthquake Commission says the number of claims from Canterbury has reached 17,000.

Spokesman Lance Dixon says given the rate the claims are coming in, it's difficult to put an accurate figure on what they will add up to.

But he's expecting it to be over a $1 billion.

Mr Dixon says people have 90 days from the event to put in a claim.

Structural problems - rest homes

Almost 200 residents from a number of aged care facilities in Canterbury are being relocated over the next few days. This is due to structural problems with the buildings they have been living in and on-going problems with the water supply.

Crevasses in Christchurch street

Wide crevasses have opened up on at least one of Christchurch's streets.

Part of Avonside Drive is now closed, with police and army personnel setting up checkpoints to allow only residents through.

Reporter Lesley Murdoch says the road has deteriorated significantly since yesterday, with gaps now 1.5 m across.

She says there's also liquid spilling out of gutters.

"There are just eruptions of tar seal - huge mounds of sandy silt that the army and naval reserves have been digging out of people's driveways."

Subsidised work programmes

After cancelling his trip to Europe, Prime Minister John Key is set to announce subsidised work programmes for out-of-work workers this afternoon.

"I think people are very fearful of what might come next, given that the number of aftershocks we've had now are well over 100," he said this morning.

"I can understand the trauma that people are feeling and that will mean that the Government will have to provide those services for support and counselling for a period of time and actually for quite a long period of time, I would have thought."