Malta Independent

$1 billion raised to rebuild Paris’ Notre Dame after fire

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Nearly $1 billion has already poured in from ordinary worshipper­s and high-powered magnates around the world to restore the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, after the French president set a controvers­ial five-year deadline to get the work done.

Constructi­on teams brought in a huge crane and a delivery of planks of wood to the site Wednesday morning. Firefighte­rs are still examining damage and shoring up the structure after Monday’s fire collapsed the cathedral’s spire and destroyed the roof.

French President Emmanuel Macron ratcheted up the pressure by setting a five-year deadline to restore the 12th-century landmark. Macron is holding a special Cabinet meeting Wednesday dedicated to the Notre Dame disaster, which investigat­ors believe was an accident possibly linked to renovation work.

Bells will toll at cathedrals around France on Wednesday evening in honor of the monument. Remarkably, no one was killed in the fire, after firefighte­rs and church officials speedily evacuated the site during a mass.

Presidenti­al cultural heritage envoy Stephane Bern told broadcaste­r France-Info on Wednesday that 880 million euros ($995 million) has been raised in just a day and a half since the fire. Contributi­ons came from near and far, rich and poor — from Apple and magnates who own L’Oreal, Chanel and Dior, to Catholic parishione­rs and others from small towns and cities around France and the world.

The French government is gathering donations and setting up a special office to deal with bigticket offers.

Some criticism has already surfaced among those in France who say the money could be better

spent elsewhere, on smaller struggling churches or workers.

Meanwhile Macron’s 5-year deadline — which happens to coincide with the 2024 Paris Olympics, which the government wants to make a major showcase — struck many as unrealisti­c.

Pierluigi Pericolo, in charge of restoratio­n and security at the St. Donatian basilica in Nantes, said it could take two to five years just to secure Notre Dame, given its size.

“It’s a fundamenta­l step, and very complex, because it’s difficult to send workers into a monument whose vaulted ceilings are swollen with water,” he said on France-Info. “The end of the fire doesn’t mean the edifice is totally saved. The stone can deteriorat­e when it is exposed to high temperatur­es and change its mineral compositio­n and fracture inside.”

Some 30 people have already been questioned in the investigat­ion, which the Paris prosecutor warned would be “long and complex.” Among those questioned are workers at the five constructi­on companies involved in work renovating the church spire and roof that had been under way when the fire broke out.

A plan to safeguard the masterpiec­es and relics was quickly put into action after the fire broke out.

The Crown of Thorns, regarded as Notre Dame’s most sacred relic, was among the treasures quickly transporte­d after the fire broke out, authoritie­s said. Brought to Paris by King Louis IX in the 13th century, it is purported to have been pressed onto Christ‘s head during the crucifixio­n.

The cathedral’s famous 18thcentur­y organ that boasts more than 8,000 pipes also survived. Some of the paintings and other art works are being dehumidifi­ed, protected and eventually restored at the Louvre.

 ?? Photograph: AP ?? An adult whooping crane, a critically endangered species, in captivity at the Audubon Nature Institute's Species Survival Center in New Orleans. In a study released on Monday, whooping cranes, ravens and peregrine falcons are among the celebritie­s of the sky in the eyes of Americans, even those who’ve never laid eyes on one.
Photograph: AP An adult whooping crane, a critically endangered species, in captivity at the Audubon Nature Institute's Species Survival Center in New Orleans. In a study released on Monday, whooping cranes, ravens and peregrine falcons are among the celebritie­s of the sky in the eyes of Americans, even those who’ve never laid eyes on one.
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