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Deric Blackler has already managed to remove a small number of objects from Portobello Antiques in the city and reckons that 80 per cent of his remaining stock is salvagable.

However, the shop is located inside the city's protective cordon, which mean he must gain official permission before being allowed back inside.

Reports also say that he has already been mistaken for a looter while trying to get back in.

Now he is concerned at what might happen if access to the restricted area of the city is lifted before he can secure his stock.

A well-respected figure among the Australasian museum community, Mr Blackler has received support from a number of curators who argue that the destruction of his stock could lead to the loss of key heritage artefacts.