First visit allowed to red-zone high-rise building

6:24 pm on 30 March 2011

Business owners in Christchurch have been allowed into a high-rise building in the red zone for the first time.

On Tuesday, more than 100 people went into the 20-storey PricewaterhouseCoopers building, in four stages. They were allowed to stay for 90 minutes, to get important items.

The building is in the red zone but has a yellow placard, meaning it's considered safe for restricted entry.

Its occupants were given hard hats, fluorescent vests and a safety briefing, instructed on possible hazards, and supervised by an engineer and a Civil Defence representative.

They were told to watch out for hazards such as sewage spills and gas leaks, and what to do if an aftershock struck or they found a quake victim.

Those spoken to by Radio New Zealand said the system worked well and they felt safe.

Plans are being made to allow business owners into other parts of the red zone considered safe, and to enable occupants of buildings with red stickers to see at least the outside of their premises.