A fundraising effort to help rebuild and renovate the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France is nearing $1 billion just one day after a tragic fire consumed much of its interior and completely toppled its iconic spire.
While the church’s monumental North and South towers emerged triumphant from the disastrous flames, USA Today reports French authorities claimed the entire structure was minutes away from a total collapse.
Notre Dame was initially built in 1163 and the fire which sprung from the belly of the cathedral eviscerated much of the original structure’s wooden roofing and supports.
Now, architects and engineers have been given the herculean task of restoring Notre Dame to its former glory. Check it out from USA Today:
Engineers and historians are expected to put up a temporary roof to protect the cathedral from the elements, assess damage and salvage materials before beginning repairs that may take decades.
Structural engineers, stained-glass experts and stone craftspeople from across the globe are expected to head to Paris to help with restorations in the next few weeks.
The estimated cost to completely repair the iconic 850-year-old church will reach between $1.13 billion and $2.3 billion, according to Stephane Bern, who heads heritage renovation programs across France.
Bern said about $995 million has been raised in just a day and a half from French business leaders and ordinary worshippers at home and from abroad. The French government is gathering donations and is in the process of setting up a special office to deal with them.
French President Emanuel Macron is recruiting international help to design the new spire “even more beautifully” than it was before. BBC reports Macron wants the work to be completed within five years.
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Investigators trying to establish the cause of the fire have begun questioning workers from five companies involved in the extensive renovations that were underway at the cathedral. Officials believe the works could be linked to the disaster.
“Nothing indicates this was a deliberate act,” said public prosecutor Rémy Heitz, adding that he expected to be a “long and complex” case.
Offers of help to rebuild the cathedral have come from several world leaders, groups and individuals, including:
– Billionaire François-Henri Pinault, chairman, and CEO of the Kering group that owns the Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent fashion brands, who pledged €100m
– Bernard Arnault’s family and their company LVMH, a business empire which includes Louis Vuitton and Sephora, who pledged €200m
– French cosmetics giant L’Oreal and its founding Bettencourt family promised to give €200m while oil giant Total pledged €100m
Culture Minister Franck Riester said some of the artwork and religious items rescued would be sent to the Louvre museum where they would be kept and eventually restored.