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Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris Severely Damaged in Fire

Report from France by Rachel Pommeyrol

fire burning in
nortre dame cathedral, seem from the seine river with boats
and a bridge in the foreground. Flames are in the roof but
the spire is standing in this picture

Photos via the French Home Office on Twitter

“Notre-Dame is our history, our literature. (...) We will rebuild Notre-Dame, because the French people expect it, because it is our profound destiny,” declared French President Emmanuel Macron, almost five hours after a huge fire started in the cathedral on early Monday evening, French time.

An accident during renovation works started the fire, according to preliminary investigation. The cathedral spire quickly collapsed and most of the roof was reduced to ashes. Around 400 firefighters attempted to reduce the damage and to save the pieces of art and cultural objects that cathedral holds. One of them was severely injured, according to official sources. Residents and tourists were evacuated and will be hosted until the situation is under control.

As of midnight local time – even though, according to a Paris fire official, the two towers and the main structure were saved – fire was still burning inside Notre-Dame, with two-thirds of the roofing ravaged. When the fire is extinguished, firefighters will have to evaluate the extent of the damage and to secure a framework to prevent a collapse.

firefighters
outside the burning cathedral

President Macron cancelled a planned address to French people, expected to be a response to the demands around the 'Yellow Vest' protest movement, to visit Notre-Dame on Monday night. He praised the firefighters' work and declared that Notre-Dame would be rebuilt. Many organisations have already collected money to rebuild the cathedral, which could take dozens of years.

Theresa May posted on Twitter, “My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral.” Sadiq Khan, London Mayor, said on social media, “London stands in sorrow with Paris today, and in friendship always.” Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, and Justin Trudeau have also expressed their support.

For the French people, Tuesday morning will bring an assessment of this sudden disaster which has deeply harmed their culture and identity. And a time to rebuilt them.

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