Wellington buildings concerns grow

Concerns over more buildings in Wellington are growing with another building now being checked after reports it was heard to crack overnight.

This damage seems to be as a result of the distant M7.5 earthquake on early Monday morning (Christchurch was much closer), which as stated yesterday in Serious building problems in Wellington raises major questions about how well Wellington could withstand a large earthquake centred closer (there was a 8+ earthquake there in 1855).

The eight story building in Molesworth street is reported to be at risk of collapse and is “severely structurally compromised”.

RNZ: Beam in Molesworth Street building fractured ‘like a bone’ – Fire Service

Fire Service regional commander Brendan Nally said engineers doing a post-earthquake building check this afternoon found a major structural beam on the fifth floor had broken.

“A vertical beam in the building has been shorn, it looks somewhat like a broken bone in the leg, so it’s fractured through.

“So it’s a major supporting beam, it’s up above the fifth floor, so it’s the top four floors of the building [affected].”

Mr Nally called it a “clear structural failure”. The engineers declared the building unsafe, he said.

The beam was by the lift shaft. The building was under renovation and was empty.

Mr Nally said the affected area would remain sealed off until decisions were made tomorrow about what to do.

Molesworth Street runs past Parliament and the National Library. It connects to the motorway and is a major thoroughfare for commuter traffic.

The evacuated buildings included New Zealand Rugby, St Pauls Cathedral, the Thai Embassy and the Red Cross.

So significant disruption in that part of Wellington. And elsewhere:

Engineers have been inspecting nearly 50 earthquake-damaged buildings in the capital city, with some likely to be closed for weeks.

Yesterday people were asked to stay away from the CBD after several multi-storey buildings were damaged, and glass fell into streets, following the magnitude 7.5 quake centred near Hanmer.

Many of the damaged buildings were on reclaimed land on Wellington’s waterfront, including the BNZ and nearby Statistics New Zealand building.

The 500 staff who work in the Statistics NZ building were told they could not return for several months after one corner was damaged in the earthquake, affecting two floors.

Newstalk ZB have just reported that the creaking building was a false alarm.

Meanwhile there were serious concerns about another building in Wellington early this morning but that’s turned out to be a false alarm.

40 Taranaki Street was cordoned off just after 2am and firefighters raced to the scene.

Fire Service shift manager Jan Wills said someone from Calendar Girls reported creaking and hearing loud cracks. 

http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/emergency/earthquake-update-what-you-need-to-know/

It’s understandable that people in downtown Wellington are wary of any signs of compromised buildings.

Why has our capital city been built on a major active fault line? And why have Government services been centralised and concentrated there?

It looks like a potentially huge disaster waiting to happen.

Serious building problems in Wellington

It seems surprising how much earthquake damage has occurred in Wellington. The closest quake was a modest 5.3 and the capital is a distance from all the quakes near Seddon most of the way  across the Cook Strait.

There has been quite a bit of minor damage to many buildings. And it is emerging that there’s more than minor damage to some large buildings.

It has been revealed that at least one of the reasons why the Statistics building can’t be re-entered by staff for at least a year is due to a partial floor collapse – one report called it pancaking.

1 News: How tragic could it have been had people been at work? Ceiling at Stats NZ building collapsed during quake

Chief executive Liz MacPherson said it appeared Statistics House, located on CentrePort land on the Wellington waterfront, suffered structural damage to “one corner of the building, down the stadium end, partially affecting two floors”.

She said in a Facebook message to staff that engineers had told her it could be anywhere from several months up to a year before staff could return to the building.

“Now it goes without saying that I am asking the same questions that I am sure you are asking, ‘how is it a building that is as new as Stats House, with the code rating that it had, could suffer this sort of damage’,” she said. “I will continue asking those questions.”

Building owner CentrePort said Statistics House will require more extensive inspections to accurately assess the damage.

Chief executive Derek Nind said two concrete beams had become separated from the building’s exterior wall with part of the ground and first floor ceilings dislodging.

And now another building has been cordoned off with apparent fears of falling glass, but also claims the lift block section is separating from the rest of this building:

wellingtonbuildingliftwell

 

Newshub: Wellington street cordoned off over building fears

There are fears a building is about to collapse in central Wellington.

Nearby buildings have been evacuated and engineers say there is a chance the former Deloitte building could collapse.

The building is on Molesworth Street near Parliament and emergency services have closed off the road.

Buildings in the vicinity that have been evacuated include the Thai Embassy, Rugby NZ House, Red Cross and ANZ.

This on it’s own is concerning enough.

But there should be questions asked about how badly Wellington has been affected by these earthquakes.

Remember, a 5.3 earthquake, with a number of shakes from across the Strait of up to 5.8.

But also remember that in 1855 there was a massive 8+ quake in Wellington.

Historical earthquakes in the Wellington region

The Wellington region has been subject to a number of large earthquakes in the past 175 years. New Zealand’s largest ever earthquake was the magnitude 8.2–8.3 quake that struck on 23 January 1855.  The earthquake caused damage to the city including uplift of the harbour, a tsunami in the Wellington harbour and numerous landslides around the region.  In 1942 the Wairarapa was shaken by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake on 24 June and then a 7.0 on 2 August, both caused extensive local damage. 

http://www.getprepared.org.nz/hazards/earthquake

There should be serious concern about the damage this week from far smaller quakes, but even more concern about future risks.