Salvage efforts after Notre-Dame blaze
April 16, 2019 - Hundreds of millions of euros have been pledged to help rebuild Notre-Dame after fire ravaged the 850-year-old building, destroying the medieval roof timbers, the spire, and parts of the stone vaulting below.
Although the spire of the cathedral and the roof collapsed, firefighters managed to save the main structure and salvage an unknown quantity of its cultural treasures, according to a cathedral spokesman.
Two priceless artefacts, the Holy Crown of Thorns and a sacred tunic worn by Saint Louis, a 13th-century French king, were among items rescued. They have been taken to the Musée du Louvre for safekeeping.
France’s minister of culture Franck Riester said three parts of the stone vault had collapsed and authorities are worried about the rest given that there are vast amounts of water-filled charred wood lying on top of the structure.
“It’s all very fragile,” said Riester.
The cathedral’s iconic bell towers -- immortalised in Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame -- survived, along with the elaborate stonework facade. The irreplaceable rose windows and Grand Organ are also reportedly in good condition.
President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to rebuild the cathedral and said he would launch an international fundraising campaign to help finance repairs. Donors have already pledged hundreds of millions of euros.
Two of France’s richest men, François-Henri Pinault -- chairman and chief executive of the Kering group, which owns such brands as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent -- has offered to donate €100m ($113m), and LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault has offered €200m ($226m).
The Île-de-France region will unlock an emergency fund of €10 million ($11.3 million), and Paris City Hall said it would give €50 million ($56.45 million) towards rebuilding efforts.
Notre-Dame is one of France’s most famous landmarks, visited by around 13 million people a year.