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Engineers mull Wellington 'deconstruction'

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/11/2016

Cordons around a condemned building on central Wellington's Molesworth Street have shrunk as engineers figure out how to take down the structure.

Wellington City Council on Wednesday made a decision to "deconstruct" the eight-storey building at 61 Molesworth Street after it was deemed a significant risk of collapse after Monday's magnitude 7.8 quake.

It has since been reported a couple, Olive and Ernest Mape, had been illegally living in the commercial building - thought to be vacant.

"We thought it was the big one for Wellington, because it shook really bad ... There were floor-to-ceiling cracks in our place and water pipes burst from the second floor," Mr Mape told One News.

The couple said they had been paying $300 a week to live in the building after being offered it by a property manager and believed others were homed there as well.

Structures around the building also remained closed on Thursday, but the cordon around the site has been pulled back to streets directly surrounding it.

Planning has started into what the best method to "deconstruct" the building will be, the council says.

Nearby Hawkestone Street has been reopened to traffic and residents of Collina Terrace will be able to go get items from their homes, with safety escorts.

An apartment building on 25 Tennyson Street also remains closed, although the street is no longer cordoned off.

Meanwhile, small sections of Featherston Street remain closed - although the road is open to traffic - and Pipitea Street, Lukes Lane and the area on the corner of Manners and Taranaki Streets are closed to pedestrians due to building damage and repairs.

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