France pledges to rebuild Notre Dame after destructive fire
April 16, 2019 | 3:59 PM
by Agencies
The Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France caught fire yesterday. The source of the fire is yet to be determined.

Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after it was seriously damaged by a massive fire.

"We will rebuild Notre Dame. Because that is what the French expect, because it is what our history deserves, and because it is our deep destiny."

Macron stated that a national fundraising campaign would be launched to restore the 856-year-old monument.

The cathedral was saved by firefighters, who spent more than 9 hours battling the massive fire. According to French authorities, two police officers and a firefighter were slightly injured.

The Firefighters of Paris said in a statement, "the structure of the cathedral is saved and the main works of art have been safeguarded, thanks to the combined action of the different services of the State committed to our side."

A priest also confirmed that most of the artworks and treasures had been saved.

According to the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, the priceless treasures saved from the blaze include the crown of thorns, the tunic of Saint Louis, and several other major works. Members of the police, firefighters, and municipal workers formed a human chain to save the artifacts.

The cause of the incident remains unknown.

The spire and roof of the iconic cathedral in central Paris were destroyed in the fire, which broke out at around around 1700 GMT local time, according to French media.

At the time, Hidalgo tweeted, “A terrible fire is underway at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, firefighters are trying to control the flames.”

"We are mobilised close connection with the Diocese of Paris. I invite everyone to respect the security perimeter," she added.

Online footage showed thick smoke billowing from the top of the cathedral and huge flames between its two bell towers engulfing the spire and the entire roof.

"Everything is burning, the frame, which dates from the 12th century on one side and the 13th century on the other, there will be nothing left," Andre Finot, the cathedral spokesperson, told local media as the fire raged.

President Emmanuel Macron, who was due to give a speech on TV, rushed to the centuries-old cathedral accompanied with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

The Paris prosecutor's office has launched an investigation to determine the cause of the blaze.

World Reacts

World leaders expressed shock and solidarity with the French people as soon as news of the fire broke.

Queen Elizabeth II said in a statement, "Prince Philip and I have been deeply saddened to see the images of the fire which has engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral.

"My thoughts and prayers are with those who worship at the cathedral and all of France at this difficult time," the monarch added.

British Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted that "my thoughts are with the people of France."

US President Donald Trump called the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris "horrible."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was deeply saddened by the fire.

"It hurts to see these horrible pictures of the burning Notre Dame. Notre Dame is a symbol of France and of our European culture. Our thoughts are with (our) French friends," Germany's Government Spokesman Steffen Seibert said on behalf of Merkel.

In a message to Macron, Italian President Sergio Mattarella wrote that the whole of Italy "stands in sincere friendship with the people of France."

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister Antonio Costa respectively sent their heartfelt condolences to Macron.

"It is a tragedy for the French people, for the Europeans and even for all the world," Rebelo de Sousa said, while Antonio Costa stated that a part of "our European history disappears under the flames."

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras added that not only were Paris and France in mourning, but the entire world.

Offering France encouragement, Former US President Barack Obama stated, "It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can."

Former First lady of the US Michelle Obama also wrote, "The majesty of Notre Dame—the history, artistry, and spirituality—took our breath away, lifting us to a higher understanding of who we are and who we can be. Being here in Paris tonight, my heart aches with the people of France. Yet I know that Notre Dame will soon awe us again."

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also issued a statement, saying, “Deeply saddened by the devastating fire at the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. For centuries, it has been a revered place of worship for Catholics around the world. We share their grief and hope that the resilient people of France will be able to restore it to its past glory.”

Offers of support have poured in from France and around the world.

The family of French billionaire Bernard Arnault and the LVMH group he runs pledged to donate €200 million euros.

A statement issued by LVMH stated that the sum would go to "the fund dedicated to the reconstruction of this architectural work, which is part of the History of France."

The French charity Fondation du Patrimoine issued a global appeal for donations, announcing on Twitter, "Call for donations to help rebuild Our Lady of Paris, Notre Dame cathedral, after the brutal fire that has partly destroyed it."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to send its best experts to help.

Greece also offered to contribute to the restoration effort.

"When we see a monument being destroyed in front of our eyes, a historical monument for Paris, we feel like we are losing something from our lives. The life of the monuments is linked with the life and the history of a place," said Myrsini Zorba, the country's Minister of Culture.

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