Flying drone gives inside scoop on cathedral damage

  • 15/06/2011

By Jeff Hampton

The front of Christchurch's Roman catholic cathedral is held up by straw bales and shipping containers, and the rest of it appears just as unstable.

One hundred and six years after it celebrated its first mass, damage to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament looks terminal.


  • Click here to see the drone's full video



Monday's quake damaged arches that support the dome. Engineers are preparing to send in a drone for a second look.

It's a type of toy called a ‘quadricopter’ and was bought from Dick Smith. Controlled by an iPad, it can fly and film. Opus engineers have put a polystyrene reinforcing around it. The drone recently crept its way inside the cathedral for a test flight. The whole area's too dangerous for engineers to get close.

“Even if we lost it in the building ‘cause we're never quite sure with the wi-fi range or the battery life, but if it turned out to be a suicide mission it's a $500 one not a far more serious one,” says Opus engineer Nicholas Dawe.

Apart from a little bother getting in, the drone was able to fly round inside and show the heavy dust that's fallen on the seats below.

“You expect to see quite a lot of carnage but it's just eerie,” says Mr Dawe.

Monday's aftershocks also caused more significant damage to the city's Anglican cathedral in the square.

Civil Defence pictures taken inside the red zone show serious damage to the west wall facing the square, three quarters of it is now down, in spite of steel bracing.

The feature stained glass rose window above the entrance has also been destroyed.

“We will rebuild there's no doubt about that, whether we need to deconstruct the building, whether we have parts we can rebuild on we just don't know that yet, there are so many things we don't, and there are so many things we don't know we don't know,” says ChristChurch Cathedral’s Dean Peter Beck.

The dean says the church's priority at the moment is people, they're prepared to wait for more engineering reports and will also look at the possibility of sending in the drone to know just what they're dealing with.

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source: newshub archive