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New Zealand to partially demolish iconic Christchurch cathedral

Officials are still trying to determine if any of the cathedral, seriously damaged in February’s earthquake, can be saved.

A file photo of the damaged cathedral in February 2011.
A file photo of the damaged cathedral in February 2011.
Image: The Yomiuri Shimbun/Atsushi Taketazu/AP/PA Images

THE ICONIC CATHEDRAL in downtown Christchurch will be de-consecrated and partially demolished due to earthquake damage sustained earlier this year, officials in New Zealand said today.

The safety measure will allow authorities to decide whether to retain any portion of the city’s most well-known building, which was seriously damaged by a strong earthquake in February. The Anglican church said it plans to construct a new cathedral that incorporates parts of the old one.

In the next few months, crews will begin the painstaking task of taking down unstable parts of the building while trying to save artifacts and shore up more stable parts of the structure, a church statement said.

Crews will assess how much — if any — of the building can be saved as they proceed, a church spokeswoman said.

The Anglican church’s beauty, central location and climbable spire made it a popular tourist draw before the magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck in February, killing 182 people and destroying much of Christchurch’s downtown area.

In an enduring image, the quake toppled the cathedral’s spire. Nobody died in that collapse.

The partial demolition and strengthening will cost NZ$4 million (€2.3 million) and will allow artifacts to be saved, Church and government authorities said.

Read: Seen from space: the Christchurch earthquake >

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Associated Press

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