Repairs to Notre Dame cathedral ‘could take decades’ experts warn, as donations worth €600m pour in

It could take decades to repair the damage caused to the Notre Dame cathedral by a massive fire that destroyed the roof and spire of the famous Paris landmark. (AP)
Updated 16 April 2019

Repairs to Notre Dame cathedral ‘could take decades’ experts warn, as donations worth €600m pour in

  • Chief architect of Cologne cathedral said restoration would be complex
  • L’Oreal and founding Bettencourt family gave €200 million to reconstruction effort

LONDON: It could take decades to repair the damage caused to the Notre Dame cathedral by a massive fire that destroyed the roof and spire of the famous Paris landmark, the chief architect of Cologne cathedral has warned.

His comments came as some €600 million ($680 million) was pledged by numerous French corporations and the country’s richest families to help rebuild the cathedral less than 24 hours after the blaze, according to an AFP tally of donations announced so far.

The latest major contribution came from French cosmetics giant L’Oreal and its founding Bettencourt family, which gave €200 million to the reconstruction effort.

Peter Fuessenich, who oversees all construction work for the Gothic cathedral in the German city, told broadcaster RTL on Tuesday that “it will certainly take years, perhaps even decades, until the last damage caused by this terrible fire will be completely repaired.”

Cologne cathedral was heavily damaged during World War II and work to repair it is still ongoing more than 70 years later.

On Tuesday, French investigators probing the devastating blaze at Notre-Dame Cathedral questioned workers who were renovating the monument, and who had been replacing its lead covering. The renovation is widely suspected to have caused the inferno after the blaze broke out in an area under scaffolding.

Investigators interviewed witnesses overnight and began speaking to the employees of five different construction companies which were working on the monument, said public prosecutor Remy Heitz.

"Nothing indicates this was a deliberate act," Heitz told reporters, adding that 50 investigators had been assigned to what he expected to be a "long and complex" case.

The architect in charge of the renovation project slated to last until 2022 said that no workers were on the site when the flames first appeared shortly before 7 pm

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READ MORE - Before and After: Notre Dame Cathedral ravaged by huge blaze

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Fuessenich called the fire in Paris “a tragedy with a European dimension” as many churches and cathedrals across the continent were inspired by buildings in France. He said that “when the last stone was set in Notre-Dame, the first one was laid here in Cologne, and in this respect it affects us all very much.”

According to Fuessenich, the timbered roof of Cologne cathedral’s was replaced with an iron frame during the 19th century, meaning a fire there would be less devastating.

However, the architects who restored Windsor Castle after a fire devastated the oldest inhabited castle in the world shared a message with France on Tuesday: Notre-Dame Cathedral would reign magnificent again over Paris, possibly sooner than grieving Parisians expect.

“We shall see Notre-Dame magnificent again,” said Francis Maude, an architect at Donald Insall Associates which led the restoration of Windsor Castle and is now working on restoring the parliamentary Palace of Westminster in London.

“The French can be reassured that it can certainly be done,” he said. “We would be more than ready to help.”

(With Agencies)


Lithuania confirms first case of coronavirus

Updated 32 min 10 sec ago

Lithuania confirms first case of coronavirus

  • Lithuania reported on Friday its first confirmed case of coronavirus
  • Nigeria on Friday announced the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa

VILNIUS: Lithuania reported on Friday its first confirmed case of coronavirus, the government said, as the disease spreads rapidly worldwide.
Hopes that the virus would be contained to China vanished, with countries beginning to stockpile medical equipment and investors taking flight in expectation of a global recession.

New Zealand's health ministry on Friday also confirmed the country's first case of coronavirus in a person who recently returned from Iran.

Belarus registered the first case of coronavirus infection in the country, Russian news agency TASS reported, citing the Belarussian Ministry of Healthcare.
"We would like to inform you that February 27 tests conducted at the Republican Scientific and Practical Center of epidemiology and microbiology showed the presence of coronavirus 2019-nCoV in one of the students from Iran," TASS quoted the ministry.

In Greece, two new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to three.
The health ministry said one of the cases concerned a relative of a 38 year old woman in the northern town of Thessaloniki, the first confirmed case reported in Greece. The woman had recently returned from Milan in northern Italy.
Meanwhile, Nigeria announced the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa.
The case is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and returned from Milan earlier this week, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said in a statement on Twitter.
“The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos,” Ehanire said.
Italy has become a hotbed of infection in recent days, with the largest outbreak in Europe.
But the low number of cases across Africa, which has close economic ties with China, the epicenter of the deadly outbreak, has puzzled health specialists.