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Cordons to come down in Christchurch

The area of Cashel St in Christchurch closed since the Boxing Day aftershocks is set to be reopened to shoppers.

City council staff are confident the wider cordon between Colombo St and Oxford St will be taken down by start of business tomorrow.

The council’s inspections enforcement manager, Gary Lennan, said unsafe buildings within the area would need to be individually cordoned off, allowing access only to buildings that did not pose a danger.

Council building engineers and structural engineers working under contract continued to evaluate buildings today.

Council engineers have also cleared the tramline and trams will be back in operation tomorrow.

Business owner Ginny Kaur said the roof of her restaurant had collapsed.

“It has come down, there’s debris bricks everywhere on the floor,” she said.

“You can stand inside and see the sky, it’s that bad.”

About 130 buildings out of 5000 in the central business district have visible signs of damage.

It could be up to two weeks before property owners and tenants are told if a building is to be condemned.

Meanwhile, a new venue may be required for the New Year’s Eve celebration in Christchurch.

Council staff are considering back-up venues in case buildings in Cathedral Square, where the party is traditionally held, are deemed unsafe.

Despite new cracks, the cathedral is structurally sound and open. Several buildings nearby are currently off-limits.

A decision on a New Year’s Eve venue will be made tomorrow.

The Earthquake Commission has received more than 200 claims for damage from the Boxing Day aftershocks.

Commission CEO Ian Simpson said most are for cracks in ceilings and walls, and broken house contents.

He said despite the damage, there had been no panic and most people were taking the latest episode in their stride.

The largest aftershock was magnitude 4.9 and hit at 10.30am on Sunday.

The Earthquake Commission announced yesterday that the aftershocks would be treated as a new earthquake.

“That means that people whose property was damaged by the quakes will have three months to lodge their claim and there is no need to rush home to check if they are away,” Simpson said yesterday.

Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

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