Notre Dame: €600m raised to help restore fire-damaged Paris cathedral
At least €600m (£519m) has been raised to restore the Notre-Dame Cathedral, 24 hours after a devastating fire ravaged the Paris landmark.
The fire raged for more than 12 hours, destroying the cathedral’s spire and its roof. But it spared its twin medieval bell towers and many of priceless artistic treasures.
The funds come as workers tackling the renovations on the roof – where the fire started – were being questioned over the outbreak of the blaze.
French billionaire François-Henri Pinault donated €100m (£86.4m) towards efforts and was shortly followed by LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault who offered €200m (£173m) to reconstruct the “symbol of France”.
Mr Pinault said: “This tragedy strikes all the French and beyond all those who are attached to spiritual values. Faced with such a tragedy, everyone wants to revive this jewel of our heritage as quickly as possible.”
French energy company Total will donate €100m (£86.4m), as a further €200m (£173m) was pledged by French luxury and cosmetics group L’Oreal and the Bettencourt Meyers family.
Other funding efforts are underway through crowd-funding pages and French President Emmanuel Macron announced an international fundraising campaign.
The first reports of a fire at the world-famous landmark came at 6.50pm local time on Monday. The edifice burned for more than 12 hours until the final flames could be extinguished.
Around 500 firefighters worked throughout the night to put out the flames, with two police officers and one firefighter injured during the efforts.
The Paris prosecutor said there is no evidence of arson and the current belief is that the fire was an accident.
Remy Heitz says the investigation will be “long and complex” and that interviews will be carried out with workers from five companies hired to work on renovations to the cathedral’s roof, which was where the fire started.
Julien le Bras’ company has 12 workers involved in the refurbishment, though none were on site at the time of the fire.
He said: “We want more than anyone for light to be shed on the origin of this drama” and insisted that “all the security measures were respected,” saying “workers are participating in the investigation with no hesitation.”
Despite much of the roof being damaged and the spire breaking off, emergency services managed to save the building and a number of treasures were rescued.
A priest emerged as a hero after it was revealed he bravely entered the burning building with firefighters to save the Blessed Sacrament and the Crown of Thorns.
Frank Riester, the French culture minister, thanked emergency services and those who helped save the relics, treasures and art in the cathedral.
He said some of the items will be taken to the Louvre, the world’s largest art museum, for safe-keeping and any repair work that is needed.
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