President Emmanuel Macron promised France would rebuild Notre-Dame, considered among the finest examples of French Gothic cathedral architecture and visited by more than 13 million people annually.
Billionaires and private donors pledged hundreds of millions of euros on Tuesday to help rebuild Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris which has been devastated by fire.
“We will rebuild it together. It will undoubtedly be part of French destiny and our project for the years to come,” Macron said outside the cathedral shortly before midnight.
Nearly five hundred Firefighters doused the smouldering ruins of Notre-Dame with water on Tuesday, the morning after a raging inferno swept through the Gothic cathedral in the heart of Paris as investigators tried to establish what started the fire.
Hundreds of firemen battled the blaze which consumed the roof and collapsed the eight-centuries-old cathedral’s spire for more than eight hours before bringing it under control, saving its bell towers and outer walls.
Pockets of fire continued to burn inside the building and thorough checks on the cathedral’s structural soundness would be needed, junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said it had launched an inquiry into the fire. Several police sources said they were working on the assumption for now that the fire was accidental.
“It’s a symbol of our country that risked being destroyed,” Culture Minister Franck Riester told CNews television.
Firefighters who entered the burning cathedral saved many of its treasures, Riester said, although some paintings remained inside and risked smoke and water damage.
The fire tore through the cathedral’s timbered roofing, where workmen were carrying out extensive renovations to collapsed balustrades and crumbling gargoyles and the spire’s wooden frame.
Hundreds of stunned onlookers lined the banks of the Seine river as the fire raged, reciting prayers and singing liturgical music in harmonies late into the night as they stood vigil.
French billionaire Bernard Arnault announced Tuesday that he and the LVMH luxury conglomerate he controls would give 200 million euros ($226 million) for the reconstruction efforts.
The pledge came after Arnault´s crosstown rival Kering, the fashion group founded by fellow billionaire Francois Pinault, offered 100 million euros to help “completely rebuild Notre-Dame”.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also said Tuesday that the city would unlock 50 million euros, and would propose holding an international donors´ conference in the coming weeks to coordinate the pledges to restore the gothic architectural masterpiece.
The privately run French Heritage Foundation has already launched a call for donations on its website — http://www.fondation-patrimoine.org — while several pages were set up on the Leetchi fundraising portal.
The Ile-de-France region comprising the greater Paris region is to provide another 10 million euros.