Thursday, October 25, 2007

A moving story

Engineers are transporting a 660-ton German church 12 kilometres by truck to save it from destruction: Its home village is set to be swallowed up by an expanding coal pit. Now an entire church in eastern Germany is being taken up and moved - thanks to a little faith and a lot of modern technology.

Earlier this week, people in Heuersdorf, a village in Saxony near Leipzig, saw the 750-year-old Emmaus Church lifted onto a truck ahead of its journey to the town of Borna, 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) down the road, which begins today. The church will reach its destination on Oct. 31 if all goes according to plan.

To achieve this feat, the 14.5-metre-high, 8.9-metre-wide and 19.6-metre-high chapel underwent an extensive preparation phase, which began started shortly after Easter 2007 - the last time a service was held in the church.

First , a steel and concrete platform was constructed underneath the structure and thousands of cracks in the walls were plugged with concrete. Then, the church was wrapped in four steel corsets. Once ready, the structure, which weighs 660 tons, was raised 1.6 meters by hydraulic lifts so that an enormous, multi-wheeled red transport bed could be slid in beneath it.

The move is necessary because the village of Heuersdorf is set to disappear, swallowed up by a massive coal mine. The town sits upon an estimated 52 million tons of lignite, or brown coal, which will be taken for use at the nearby power plant in Lippendorf. The town had originally won a court battle to keep its land, but a 2005 decision by a higher court overturned that ruling.

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