Macron vows to rebuild Notre-Dame within five years

PHOTO: Reuters

PARIS - French President Emmanuel Macron vowed on Tuesday (April 16) to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral "within five years", after a fire that toppled the steeple of the 850-year-old landmark and caused major damage to the roof.

"We will rebuild the cathedral even more beautifully and I want it to be finished within five years," Mr Macron said in a televised address to the nation a day after the blaze. "And we can do it."

But he also warned: "Let us not fall into the trap of haste."

Mr Macron said that the dramatic fire had brought out the best in a country that has been riven with divisions.

"What we saw last night in Paris was our capacity to mobilise and to unite," the 41-year-old leader said in the solemn address from his office in the presidential palace.

France had, over the course of its history, seen many towns, ports and churches go up in flames, he said.

"Each time we rebuilt them," he said, adding that the cathedral inferno had shown that "our history never stops and that we will always have trials to overcome".

Parisians were left in shock after a fire engulfed the iconic Notre Dame cathedral, destroying the spire and timbered roof, though firefighters were able to save the main stone structure. http://str.sg/oKvt

Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, 16 April 2019

He visited the site of the fire late on Monday and promised then to rebuild the cathedral, parts of which date to the 12th century.

The cathedral spire was destroyed and its roof gutted, but the bell towers are still standing and many valuable art works were saved after more than 400 firemen worked to contain the blaze, finally quelling it 14 hours after it began.

As the city and the country grieved for a potent national symbol, billionaires, companies and local authorities were quick to offer donations.

Some 24 hours after the fire started, more than €750 million (S$1.14 billion) had been pledged, including €500 million from the three billionaire families that own France's giant luxury goods empires: Kering, LVMH and L'Oreal.

Paris public prosecutor Remy Heitz said there was no obvious indication the fire was arson. Fifty people were working on what would be a long and complex investigation, officials said.

The fire swiftly ripped through the cathedral's oak roof supports, where workmen had been carrying out extensive renovations to the spire's timber-framed supports.

Police began questioning the workers involved, the prosecutor's office said.

Fire at Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral

  • Smoke billows as fire engulfs the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
  • Smoke billows as fire engulfs the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
  • Smoke billows as fire engulfs the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
  • People watch the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral burn in central Paris.
  • People watch the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral burn in central Paris.
  • Firefighters douse flames of the burning Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • Firefighters douse flames of the burning Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • Firefighters gather near a fire truck as they work to contain the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral.
  • The cathedral was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding, and bronze statues were removed last week for works.
  • The cathedral was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding, and bronze statues were removed last week for works.

One firefighter was injured but no one else was hurt, with the fire starting at around 6.30pm after the building was closed to the public for the evening.

Firefighters examined the facade, with its spectacular 10m filigreed stained-glass rose window still intact. They could be seen walking atop the belfries as police kept the area in lockdown.

Investigators will not be able to enter the cathedral's blackened nave until experts are satisfied its walls withstood the heat and the building is structurally sound.

"Yesterday, we thought the whole cathedral would collapse. Yet this morning, she is still standing, valiant, despite everything," said Sister Marie Aimee, a nun who had hurried to a nearby church to pray as the flames spread.

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