Cathedral dome is being removed
Last updated 11:15 21/06/2011
The dome atop the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament "wobbled like a jelly" in Monday's aftershocks, destroying the plan to remove it intact in two weeks' time.
The extra damage from last Monday's shakes has also meant the rear portion of the cathedral, where the dome sits, would have to be demolished.
Work was now underway to cut the dome into four parts before removing it. Contractors are working from the top of the building, instead of alongside it which would have been required if it was removed as a single piece.
Work, delayed yesterday by the weather, is expected to take six weeks. The rear part of the building will then be demolished.
Cathedral management board chairman Lance Ryan said contractors were suspended from a crane when Monday's first quake hit and saw the dome "wobble like a jelly".
Ryan said it was still hoped to save the main nave of the cathedral and as much of the historic character of the building as possible, but that would depend on a full assessment once it was safe to enter.
Any rebuilding work would have to comply with much tougher regulations likely in the aftermath of the earthquake.