Once the search for victims of the Christchurch earthquake is over, a demolition operation will clear the central business district (CBD) to make it safe, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
Older buildings in the central area fared poorly in Tuesday’s 6.3 magnitude quake, with structural engineers predicting half of those of brick construction will be written off, while 25 per cent had already collapsed. Brownlee said there were no plans to ease the safety cordon around the central city, as older buildings have been damaged and are unsafe. “Those buildings will have to be sorted out fairly swiftly – they don’t have a future”, he said. “As a general premise, older buildings are the buildings where people have suffered loss of life.” Aftershocks overnight were causing more damage and making it more difficult for search and rescue teams. Once bodies had been recovered there would be “a very big demolition effort across the CBD area”, Brownlee said. “Sites will have to be cleared so that people can have confidence it’s safe to come back into the CBD,” he said. Some buildings might be able to be repaired but for some months all services operating in the CBD would have to relocate. Rugby World Cup role questioned Hotels that would have hosted teams and fans during October’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) had suffered extreme damage, raising questions about the city’s ability to cope with hosting key matches. Brownlee said he did not want to see Christchurch lose its RWC matches. “Let’s not rush too far ahead of things. This place recovered amazingly well after the September 4 earthquake,” he said. “To lose the Rugby World Cup from Christchurch would be a massive blow. I don’t want to see it happen but we’ve got to be realistic about the prospect. We’re too far ahead of ourselves talking about it today.” Christchurch had been “lucky” much of the damage in the historic heritage precinct was repairable, he said. The High Street precinct boasted the most intact Victorian/Edwardian streetscapes in the city.