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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Two months before fate of Cathedral is known

Two months before fate of Cathedral is known

Last updated 14:13 30/03/2011

The fate of the Christchurch's Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament will not be known for at least two months.

The cathedral dome must be lowered to roof height and hazardous concrete debris removed from both front towers before structural engineers can carry out a full assessment.

This work is not expected to be completed until the middle of May.

Bishop Barry Jones, the Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, said ``every effort'' would be made to save the Cathedral.

"The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is our spiritual home in Canterbury. It is a magnificent building and an absolute treasure for Catholics throughout New Zealand and the world,'' he said.

``However, until engineers are able to get inside safely and carry out a comprehensive report, we can but wait and pray that it can be saved,'' he said.

Richard Munt, of Opus Consulting, said removing the giant central dome would be a taxing exercise.

``We are going to have to bring in specially a giant 400-tonne crane for the work, which will be carried out in several stages.'' Urgency is being given to clearing away the large debris on the northern tower and removing the bells housed in that section.

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