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Notre-Dame fire: Millions pledged to rebuild cathedral

16 April 2019, 5:58:00

Private donors have pledged hundreds of millions of euros to help rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after it was devastated by fire.

The French billionaire Bernard Arnault announced on Tuesday that he and the LVMH luxury conglomerate he controls would donate €200m (£170m) to the reconstruction efforts.

The pledge came after the rival fashion group Kering, founded by the billionaire François Pinault, offered €100m to help “completely rebuild Notre Dame”.

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The French president, Emmanuel Macron, vowed on Monday night that the monument would be rebuilt after its spire and roof collapsed in the blaze, thought to be linked to extensive renovation work.

The gothic edifice had been undergoing an €11m overhaul financed by the French state to repair damage inflicted over time by the weather and pollution.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said the city would make €50m available and would propose holding an international donors’ conference in the coming weeks to coordinate the pledges to restore the building. The Île-de-France region, comprising the greater Paris area, is to provide a further €10m.

The privately run French Heritage Foundation has launched a call for donations.

Specialised craftsmen and rare materials are expected to be needed to restore the monument, which welcomes more than 13 million visitors each year – an average of more than 35,000 people a day.

The head of a French lumber company told FranceInfo radio it was ready to offer the best oak beams available to rebuild the intricate lattice that supported the destroyed roof, known as the “forest”.

“The work will surely take years, decades even, but it will require thousands of cubic metres of wood. We’ll have to find the best specimens, with large diameters,” Sylvain Charlois of the Charlois group in Murlin, central France, told the radio station.

The UN’s Paris-based cultural agency Unesco has also promised to stand “at France’s side” to restore the site, which it declared a world heritage site in 1991.

“We are already in contact with experts and ready to dispatch an urgent mission to evaluate the damage, save what can be saved and start elaborating measures for the short- and medium-term,” Unesco’s secretary general, Audrey Azoulay, said Tuesday.

The renovation work is likely to cost hundreds of millions of euros over several years, if not decades, though experts said the damage could have been even worse.

Officials urged the government to quickly mobilise the resources to restore the cathedral. “Since yesterday I’ve been hearing that it will take a decade, what nonsense,” the former culture minister Jack Lang said on Tuesday.

He called for an ambitious three-year project to rebuild the destroyed roof and its towering spire, which collapsed as a burning ember around two hours after the blaze erupted.

‘You have to set a short deadline, as we’ve done in the past with other exceptional works,’ he said. Source: The Guardian.


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