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Inside Notre Dame, many items salvageable

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 4/16/19, 01:17 pm

UPDATE: A remarkable portion of Notre Dame’s interior survived the massive fire that engulfed the roof and spire of the 12-century cathedral Monday.

“All the 18th-century steles, the pietas, frescoes, chapels and the big organ are fine,” said Laurent Prades, the cathedral’s heritage director. He added that the building’s three large stained-glass rose windows have not been destroyed, though they may have been damaged by the heat and will be assessed by an expert. The cathedral’s high altar, installed in 1989, was hit and harmed by the spire when it came crashing down in the flames. “We have been able to salvage all the rest,” Prades said.

OUR EARLIER REPORT (11:30 a.m.): France received an international outpouring of support after a devastating fire Monday at the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Firefighters on Tuesday morning confirmed they had fully extinguished the fire, which burned through the roof of the 12th-century building and caused its spire to collapse. Much of the main structure remains intact. The famous organ that dates back to the 1730s appears to have survived, Paris officials said, and workers had removed many statues from the building just days before the fire for restoration. No one was killed in the fire, but one firefighter, among the hundreds who fought the blaze for hours, was injured.

Emergency workers are now focused on “surveying the movement of the structures and extinguishing smoldering residues,” said Gabriel Plus, a spokesman for the Paris Fire Brigade. Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said about 50 investigators will look into the incident, which they assume was an accident.

French President Emmanuel Macron launched a national fundraising campaign on Tuesday to rebuild the cathedral. French businessman Bernard Arnault and his LVMH luxury goods shop pledged $226 million toward reconstruction, and another billionaire, Francois Pinault, pledged $113 million. Cosmetic maker L’Oreal, the Bettencourt Meyers family and the Bettencourt Schueller foundation, French energy company Total, Bouygues Construction CEO Martin Bouygues, and Société Générale have also pledged money toward the project.

Several nations, including Lebanon, the Philippines, and South Korea, expressed solidarity with France. Other countries, including Japan, Germany, and Poland, offered rebuilding assistance. European Union President Donald Tusk called on bloc members to help France restore the cathedral.

The disaster comes as Catholics begin Holy Week in preparation for Easter this Sunday. As the cathedral burned, onlookers gathered nearby to pray and sing. Through his spokesman Alessandro Gissotti, Pope Francis expressed “closeness to the French Catholics and the people of Paris. We assure our prayers for the firemen and all those who are doing everything possible to deal with this dramatic situation.” Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said the city is united in sorrow with Parisians, who can “count on our love, prayers, support, and solidarity.”


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Onize Ohikere

Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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