Cathedral Update

Jun 14, 2011

The update below was received by Christchurch DIocese parishes last night.

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch

Earthquake report – June 14, 2011

Report from Lance Ryan, 
chairman of the Cathedral Management Board

Unfortunately the Cathedral has sustained substantial damage in yesterday’s earthquakes. Concrete floors on the outside of the basilica have collapsed on to the floor below, damaging the north and south arches that help support the dome.

Walls at the back half of the basilica were displaced horizontally by up to 100mm.

Engineers are presently carrying out a full inspection of the Cathedral, and we have other information to consider, such as assessing the amount of movement of the building during the earthquake from information sent from sensors that had been placed in different parts of the basilica.

It will be several days before we are in a position to comment on the future of the building.

These aftershocks are quite devastating as we were making such good progress in preparing the dome so that it could be lifted off in a couple of weeks. All this work is now on hold.


The engineers managed to fly a small drone on a preliminary inspection of the interior of the building.  This flight took place before the aftershocks, so it is expected that the interior damage will now be worse than the drone footage shows.

The footage from the drone indicated that the nave appeared to still be intact, although the drone was unable to get close enough to the pillars and walls to identify whether any significant structural damage had occurred. 

The footage also shows some rubble in the sacristy area of the cathedral, as well as an organ still standing upright on the ground floor of the building.


Several shipping containers were placed in front of the fragile north tower of the cathedral in early June to prevent the tower from collapsing further in an aftershock.  Initial indications are that this preventive measure has held the damaged tower in place as intended, although the extent of any damage from the latest aftershocks has yet to be determined.

Media contacts

Lance Ryan, chairman of the Cathedral Management Board, ph 021-246-0354

John Durning 0274 373 286 (Catholic Diocese)

Karen Wrigglesworth 027 453 0456 (Opus)


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