Birds' eye view of Basilica

04:38, May 05 2011

The dome on the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament may be down in four weeks but the building's fate won't be known for much longer.

The cathedral has been too dangerous to enter since the Feburary 22 quake, but engineers have inspected the interior while suspended from a crane in a basket.

The main dome was unstable and would be removed to help stabilise other parts of the building.

Cathedral management board chairman Lance Ryan said preliminary inspections of the church's main structure showed it to be in reasonable shape.

''The cathedral is extremely damaged but we don't really know the total extent of [it] until we get inside the building.''

More detailed inspections would start once the dome had been removed.

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