Work begins to tear down historic Christchurch building

11:01 am on 20 October 2010

Demolition has begun on a historic Christchurch building badly damaged by last month's earthquake.

The seven-storey Manchester Courts, built in 1906, was one of the country's first high-rise buildings.

Despite protests to try to save the building, Christchurch City Council voted to tear it down because a lack of steel reinforcing means it is too dangerous for the public to be around.

Two large diggers were being used to demolish the building on Tuesday. Engineers have built an 8m-high wall of soil around the building so excavators can reach the top.

Work continued despite a magnitude 5 aftershock at 11.32am, even though demolition crew were on top of the seven-storey building when it struck.

A Radio New Zealand reporter in Christchurch says the demolition is expected to take six to 12 weeks, and a cordon is keeping the public 100m from the building, forcing many businesses to close.

It is hoped the cordon can be reduced in about three weeks' time.