Up to third of commercial buildings ruled unsafe

11:00 am on 1 March 2011

Nearly a third of commercial buildings assessed by engineers in Christchurch's central city have been given a red sticker, meaning it's too unsafe to enter.

The first round of checks of the central business district has been completed, except for those buildings still cordoned off. Engineers assessed that between 20% and 30% of buildings were unsafe to enter.

The chief engineer of the evaluation team, Noel Evans, says most domestic buildings will have been given green or yellow stickers.

Yellow means restricted access, green means safe to enter.

Inspectors made their assessments from outside buildings. Mr Evans says engineers will begin more thorough checks of interiors from Monday.

He says they make sure people remain outside the buildings during such inspections to help those inside in the event of another earthquake.

Mr Evans says engineers are not seeing any further damage to buildings from the continuing aftershocks.

Mayor Bob Parker says the number of property inspection teams has doubled, and preliminary inspections of 50,000 properties should be completed by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, safety checks have been completed at the Westfield Riccarton shopping centre, and retailers on the ground floor were able to reopen from midday on Monday.

Westfield director Justin Lynch says it has undergone extensive structural checks by independent structural engineers.

He says the building has achieved green-sticker certification and the centre will reopen in stages.