Wellington authorities in New Zealand were forced to close Molesworth Street because one of its buildings presented a collapse risk. Three homes and a number of buildings were evacuated near the 10-storey high-rise. Police diverted traffic after cordoning off the street and sections of adjacent Hill Street.
Brendan Nally, Fire Service regional commander, said that during the process of a post-earthquake building review, engineers discovered a broken structural beam on the fifth floor.
Mr Nally said that the vertical beam was “fractured through”, like a broken leg bone. The condition of this major supporting beam put the top four floors of the building at risk. He described it as a “clear structural failure” and added that the building has been declared unsafe by engineers.
It was not immediately evident what caused the damage to the beam, which was by the lift shaft, or whether the building, which was under renovation, would have to be demolished.
Mr Nally said that the area would remain closed off until a decision was made about how to proceed.
Molesworth Street connects to the motorway and is heavily travelled by commuters. The evacuated buildings include the Red Cross, the Thai Embassy, St. Pauls Cathedral, and New Zealand Rugby.
The defect was discovered after engineers had been inspecting almost 50 buildings that had been in the area of the earthquake. Several tall buildings in the CDB had been damaged in the wake of the 7.5 quake near Hamner, sending glass raining into the streets.