Assessment work on central city buildings continues

6:13 am on 8 March 2011

The Fire Service says urban search and rescue activities are continuing in Christchurch's city centre.

The Fire Service's assistant national commander, Paul Baxter, says teams, including urban search and rescue, firefighters and police are working around the city on controlled deconstruction and debris clearance.

Mr Baxter says the United States crew working on the Forsyth Barr building's stairwell reports that work is 60% complete.

He says the work includes the assessment of the smaller red and yellow stickered buildings in the central city and the suburbs.

More than 500 buildings have now been cleared.

Civil Defence says 56 buildings have been demolished which has enabled some of the search teams to carry out their work.

National controller John Hamilton says the deconstruction programme enables the urban search and rescue teams to clear buildings, and assures Civil Defence there are no bodies in those buildings.

Mr Hamilton says the search and rescue teams have immediate access to him to authorise deconstruction if they're under threat from the building being checked or an adjacent building coming down on them.

A British search and rescue team, comprising of 70 members, was due to return home on Monday.

Meanwhile, Mr Baxter says the Fire Service has responded to about 55 calls in relation to earthquake damage which includes things like helping to fix tarpaulin on damaged roofs.

He says residents who need help with damaged roofs or chimneys should contact the fire service on the 111 number and their calls will be prioritised.

Mr Baxter says an open-fire ban in the Christchurch region is still in place to ensure vital resources remain where they are needed.