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Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Tuesday, 26 April 2005 12:33 UK

Utah Capitol building gets lift

Utah State Capitol
The Capitol could be destroyed by a major earthquake

The building which houses the US state of Utah's government is being lifted so that a cushion can be installed to absorb the shock of an earthquake.

The whole of Salt Lake City's Capitol will rise by a fraction of an inch for the installation, which is expected to take more than a year.

Scientists say the valley where the city is located is due for an earthquake of around magnitude seven.

The building is currently closed as it undergoes a $212m (£111m) restoration.

The state governor and legislature are expected to return to the building in 2008.

Radical refit

Workers at the site are preparing to strip out the building's old foundations and install 280 rubber and steel mounts, according to AP news agency.

This will allow it to sway as it absorbs the shock of a tremor.

Experts say an earthquake could potentially destroy the 90-year-old structure if the work is not done.

The building was completed in 1915 with almost no reinforcing steel, and engineers say it requires more radical structural changes than those undergone by such buildings as San Francisco City Hall.

There are approximately 700 earthquakes in Utah each year, though the vast majority go unnoticed.

Major earthquakes - of magnitude 6.5 to 7.5 - occur around once every 1,300 years in the Salt Lake City area.



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