World

Notre-Dame to be reconstructed in five years: Macron

Macron wants it reconstructed by the time Paris hosts 2024 Olympic Games

PARIS: French investigators probing the devastating blaze at the 850-year-old Notre-Dame Cathedral on Tuesday questioned workers who were renovating the monument while hundreds of millions of euros were pledged to restore the historic masterpiece.

As firefighters put out the last smouldering embers, a host of French billionaires and companies stepped forward with offers of cash worth around €700 million (S$1.1 billion) to remake the global landmark.

Most of the roof has been destroyed, its steeple has collapsed and an unknown number of artifacts and paintings have been lost. The main organ, which had close to 8,000 pipes, has also suffered damage.

But the cathedral's walls, bell towers and the most famous circular stained-glass windows at France's most-visited tourist attraction remain intact, leading the Vicar-General Philippe Marsset to call it "more than miraculous".

"We are all just dumbfounded. It is more than miraculous, it is heroic," Mr Marsset said, paying tribute to the more than 400 firefighters who toiled through the night.

15 HOURS

The Paris fire service said that the last remnants of the blaze were extinguished 15 hours after the fire broke out.

President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame "even more beautifully" within five years, as all of France's cathedrals rang their bells yesterday to mark 48 hours since the colossal fire began.

Mr Macron announced the fast timescale for restoration - a process some experts said would take decades - in an address to the nation where he hailed how the disaster had shown the capacity of France to mobilise and unite.

Mr Macron's defiant comments indicated he wants the reconstruction of the cathedral to be completed by the time Paris hosts the Olympic Games in 2024.

"We will rebuild the cathedral even more beautifully, and I want it to be finished within five years," Mr Macron said from the Elysee Palace.

"And we can do it."

Mr Macron said the dramatic fire had brought out the best in a country riven with divisions. Since November, Paris has been shaken by sometimes violent protests against his rule.

"Our history never stops and that we will always have trials to overcome," he added.

But Mr Macron's timeframe for reconstruction could be undone by a skill shortage. - AFP

WORLD