Dome of Catholic Cathedral to be removed

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 17:26 02/03/2011

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The dome of the Catholic Cathedral on Barbadoes Street will be removed after an inspection revealed another large earthquake could topple it completely.

Expert advisers met with diocesan personnel today to consider the badly damaged Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament after an engineer's report showed the cathedral's dome is forcing weight-bearing structures outwards.

Another earthquake like the magnitude 6.3 on February 22 would topple the dome.

Bishop Barry Jones said work to remove the dome would begin as soon as possible, but other work had to be completed and equipment needed to be assembled first.

The work is expected to take several months to complete.

The building has been deemed too dangerous to enter since the September 4 earthquake and removal of the dome will be done by cranes at a distance from the site.

Four priests who lived at the Cathedral were forced to move out in September and masses were being held at the Catholic Cathedral College assembly hall nearby.

The Cathedral suffered further damage in the February 22 quake, with the two front towers collapsing and many stained glass windows breaking.

Jones said it was not known at this stage where future services will be held now.

"We don't know anything, all we're concerned about now is protecting human life."

No decisions will be made about the future of the building until a detailed engineering report is generated after the dome has been removed.

The way Christchurch people have banded together after the earthquake has been "admirable", Jones said.

"It's moving to see how impressive people are in helping other people."

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