Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Notre-Dame Cathedral fire: as it happened

The blaze engulfed the 850-year-old World Heritage Site in Paris on Monday

Firefighters said they saved the shell of the stone structure - full story

Cause of the fire still unknown

• "This Notre-Dame cathedral, we will rebuild it", said French President Emmanuel Macron

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Thousands of onlookers on the banks of the River Seine were stunned into silence as a fire engulfed the World Heritage Site on Monday. Firefighters said they believed the fire began in the attic of the cathedral. They scrambled to rescue valuable pieces of historical art from inside the building.

The cathedral’s spire collapsed in the flames, which spread to one of its rectangular towers, followed by its roof.

Stay with us throughout the day for more updates. Times are UTC+4.

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20.55 Live updates closed

Thank you for joining us. Read more on on the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire here:

Notre-Dame Cathedral inferno destroys 'gem of collective memory'

The priceless art and artefacts housed inside the Notre-Dame cathedral - in pictures

'Hunchback of Notre-Dame' tops bestseller lists after fire

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19.35 Risks still exist: French Interior Minister

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner visited the site of the fire on Tuesday afternoon, meeting fire fighters and other staff responsible for extinguishing the blaze.

Mr Castaner told reporters Tuesday after a brief visit to the cathedral that it is "under permanent surveillance because it can still budge."

He added that state employees will need to wait 48 hours before being able to safely enter the cathedral and take care of the art works that are still there. Some were too big to be transferred.

Mr Castaner shared photos from inside the cathedral on Twitter, with the caption "This gaping wound in the heart of Paris, will heal. By our generosity. By our solidarity. By this force that brings us together in the face of adversity and makes us a great nation."

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19.10 Pictures of interior damage begin to emerge

The sky can now be seen from the interior of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in the aftermath of a fire that raged for 15 hours. AFP 
The sky can now be seen from the interior of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in the aftermath of a fire that raged for 15 hours. AFP 

Photographs from inside the wrecked cathedral are beginning to emerge, showing a gaping hole in the Gothic ceiling. Director of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, said work must begin as soon as possible to protect what is left of Notre-Dame.

Factors including smoke and water damage, as well as structural integrity, will need to be assessed over the next 24 to 48 hours.

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18.20 Notre-Dame has played an iconic role in movies, literature, art and history

Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in 'Charade'. 
Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in 'Charade'. 

The cathedral is far more than just a tourist attraction, or even a place of worship. It has also been the site of some of the most significant moments in French history, and has taken its place in the French cultural hall of fame.

It may be most famous for starring in Victor Hugo's 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, but a host of other pop culture moments have been inspired by, or filmed at, the cathedral.

From Disney movies to cult classics including Amelie and Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris, Notre-Dame holds a special place in the hearts of cinema-goers and bibliophiles.

Read the article in full here

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18.05 Windsor Castle restorers say cathedral can return to former glory

Architects who restored Windsor Castle after a fire devastated the oldest inhabited castle in the world have a message for France: Notre-Dame Cathedral will 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."

Maude cited the reconstruction of Warsaw after World War Two, Dresden's Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) after the reunification of Germany, and Windsor after the 1992 fire as illustrations of what could be done.

"It always helps if you have very clear decisions taken right out at the beginning as to what your aims are," Giles Downes, the architect behind some of the major restoration work at Windsor Castle. "Once you've got those clear decisions taken, then it's a question have you got the skilled craftsmen to do the work."

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17:30 The priceless art and artefacts housed inside the Notre-Dame

'Our Lady' attracts about 13 million visitors a year. It is easy to understand why, writes Rupert Hawksley.

This stunning piece of medieval Gothic architecture is home to hundreds of priceless paintings and religious artefacts and the fate of many items is unknown.

Read his guide to the treasures inside the cathedral

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17:15 L'Oreal joins French firms pledging donations

L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics company, along with the Bettencourt Meyers family and the Bettencourt Schueller foundation, said they would donate €200 million for Notre-Dame Cathedral repairs.

The French company, based in Paris, is the latest firm to pledge a significant donation after Monday's blaze.

Earlier, businessman Bernard Arnault's family, which owns the LVMH luxury goods group, said they were donating €200m to "show their solidarity at this time of national tragedy". French billionaires Francois-Henri Pinault and his father, Francois, said they would be giving more than €100m to help with the “complete reconstruction”.

Read the article in full here

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16:50 Notre-Dame has managed to do what Macron couldn't and unite France

People pray near Notre-Dame Cathedral. Reuters
People pray near Notre-Dame Cathedral. Reuters

It is impossible to overstate the sense of grief felt by French people of all faiths and beliefs, writes Colin Randall. Notre-Dame is Paris, as powerful a symbol of the City of Light as the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe. There is almost tangible relief that the main structure of the cathedral, especially its twin towers and stained glass windows, have been spared.

Read his comment piece here

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15:50 Artworks to be transferred to Louvre

The artworks evacuated from Notre-Dame Cathedral will be transferred to the Louvre Museum, the French Culture Minister, Franck Riester, said.

Staff from the fire department, the culture ministry and the city hall rushed to the Cathedral when the fire started to protect the main artworks that were inside, the minister said earlier.

The artworks, which include relics such as Christ's crown of thorns and French king Saint-Louis's 13th century tunic, were first moved to the city hall and will now be transferred to the nearby Louvre Museum, the minister said.

Meanwhile, the Pope has said he shares the sadness of the French people after the fire.

"I associate myself with your sadness, as well as that of the faithful of your diocese, the inhabitants of Paris and all the French," Pope Francis said in a message to the Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit.

"This disaster seriously damaged a historic building. But I realise that it has also affected a national symbol dear to the hearts of Parisians and French in the diversity of their convictions."

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15:40 French oil giant Total pledges €100m

Patrick Pouyanne, the Total chief executive, has said the French oil company will make a €100m (Dh415m) contribution to the reconstruction of Notre-Dame Cathedral.

This comes after a €200m donation from LVMH, the French luxury goods conglomerate owned by Bernard Arnault, and €100m from Francois-Henri Pinault, chief executive of the Kering group.

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15:30 Heritage sites destroyed by fire

Notre-Dame Cathedral isn't alone in being a heritage site severely affected by fire. Here's a look at some other examples:

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15:05 Hunchback of Notre-Dame tops Amazon list

Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list on Tuesday, according to AFP.

The original French version of the gothic novel, Notre-Dame de Paris, became the fastest selling book in France and is also a number one bestseller worldwide in English in two sub-categories of historical fiction.

The Disney animated movie version of the story also rocketed into the top 10 of family films.

One passage, from chapter four of the penultimate volume of the novel, was widely quoted on social media as a prophetic description of Monday's fire.

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14:55 Investigation will be 'long and complex'

Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said there's no evidence of arson and that they're working on the assumption that the Paris blaze was an accident. He added that the investigation will be "long and complex."

He said five investigators are working on the probe, and workers from five companies that had been hired to work on renovations to the cathedral's roof will be interviewed.

The roof was being repaired before the fire and was where the flames first broke out.

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14:45 How the fire unfolded

Click on the red buttons to see the information...

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14:30 Fire extinguished at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem

A small fire broke out at a guard's booth in the courtyard at the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, authorities said.

They said the fire was extinguished and the site remains open. The blaze broke out on Monday evening around the same time as Paris's Notre-Dame cathedral burned.

Israeli police said the cause was being investigated.

The Waqf religious organisation, which oversees the site, said the fire burned a guard's room above what is known as the Marwani prayer room. It said the fire was caused by youths playing with fire, without providing further details.

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14:10 Hungarian city makes donation - 140 years after Paris assistance

The Hungarian city of Szeged said it was donating €10,000 towards the rebuilding of Notre-Dame Cathedral, after the help it received from the French capital following a devastating flood in 1879.

"One hundred and forty years ago Paris provided help to rebuild Szeged after its great flood, now in the spirit of European solidarity Szeged is helping Paris," a statement from the city's municipality said.

On March 12, 1879 most buildings in Szeged - about 160km south of Budapest on the river Tisza - were destroyed by the flood, which also claimed the lives of more than 160 people.

Many European capitals including Paris sent financial aid to rebuild the city, and in gratitude Szeged named its new boulevards after the cities that helped in its reconstruction.

The city of 160,000 people, Hungary's third-largest, is also coordinating the collection of donations from citizens, according to the municipality.

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13:40 Spain to review security of its national monuments

Spain is to review the security of its national monuments as an "obvious consequence" to the fire that devastated Notre-Dame Cathedral, Culture Minister Jose Guirao said.

"This is a warning," he told Spanish radio. "The danger always lies in antiquated electrical systems which have to be reviewed."

No details were given as to what monuments would be covered.

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13:29 Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed: We stand by our French friends

The Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces has tweeted a message of support in English, Arabic and French.

He wrote: "The world witnessed a terrible night with the burning of the historic Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. We stand by our French friends and mourn the damage inflicted on one of the oldest and most famous world heritage landmarks."

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13:24 Macron's European election campaign suspended

The European election campaign of French President Emmanuel Macron is being suspended for now, said French politician Nathalie Loiseau, who is spearheading the campaign.

"We are all going through a moment of extreme sadness. The 'Renaissance' list is understandably part of this moment of national unity. We are therefore suspending the campaign until further notice," Loiseau wrote on her Twitter account.

Macron's ruling LREM party has put up candidates for the EU election under a list called 'Renaissance'.

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(FILES) This file photo taken on February 1, 2004 shows the organ of Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, one of the most famous in the World. Paris was struck in its very heart as flames devoured the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral, causing a spire to collapse and raising fears over the future of the nearly millenium old building and its precious artworks. Around 400 firefighters battled through the night, declaring only at around 10 am on April 16 that the fire had finally been extinguished but French Culture minister warned that the structure remained unstable and that no one had yet been able to fully inspect the extent of the fire and water damage inside. the organ appeared to have been "badly damaged" as had many paintings and frescos. / AFP / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN
The organ of Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of the most famous in the World, taken in 2004. AFP

13:00 Organ survives the fire

Paris' deputy mayor says Notre Dame's organ, among the world's most famous and biggest, remains intact.

Emmanuel Gregoire told BFMTV that a plan to protect Notre Dame's treasures was rapidly and successfully activated. The impressive organ dates to the 1730s and was constructed by Francois Thierry. It boasts an estimated 8,000 pipes.

Gregoire also described "enormous relief" at the salvaging of pieces such as the purported Crown of Christ.

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12:45 Inside the cathedral - before and after

Drag the bar to the left or right to see the comparison between how the area around the altar looked before and after last night's fire.

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12:40 Roads closed in the surrounding area

As you can see from this Google Map, access to the cathedral and surrounding area has been closed off as fire brigade complete their job and investigations into the cause of the fire continue. The maps says the majority of the roads will be closed until midnight.

Google Maps
Google Maps

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12:25 Tusk calls for EU solidarity

European Union chief Donald Tusk is calling on the bloc's member countries to help France rebuild the fire-ravaged cathedral saying, the site in Paris is a symbol of what binds Europe together.

Mr Tusk, who chairs summits of EU national leaders, said that the blaze reminds Europeans of "how much we can lose".

He said: "At stake here is something more than just material help. The burning of the Notre-Dame cathedral has again made us aware that we are bound by something more important and more profound than treaties."

Parliament President Antonio Tajani invited EU politicians, meeting in Strasbourg, France, to contribute their day's salary to help finance reconstruction.

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12:10 Fire now extinguished

Paris firefighters say that blaze at Notre-Dame Cathedral is fully extinguished - about 15 hours after it first started.

"The whole fire has been extinguished. Now we're in the phase of investigating," spokesman Gabriel Plus said. The fire had spread "very quickly" through the wooden roof, he added.

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11:20 Parisians sing Hail Mary outside Notre-Dame Cathedral

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11:10 Football stars display their pain on social media

The likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were joined by many other big-name footballers to share their pain on social media after becoming aware of the fire.

Neymar posted the following image to his 113m Instagram followers and you can see more of the posts here.

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11:05 Facts and figures on Notre-Dame

Name: Notre Dame de Paris, which means Our Lady of Paris.

Construction: The building stands on the Ile de la Cite, a small island in Paris' Seine River. Construction started in 1163, and its two massive towers were finished around 1245, but the building was not completed until the beginning of the 14th century. Its central spire was added in the 19th century.

Measurements and design: The interior of the cathedral is 130 metres by 48 metres. The main structure is 65 metres tall. The three famed rose windows date to the 13th century.

French Revolution: In the wake of the French Revolution, the cathedral was declared a "Temple of Reason" as part of an anticlerical movement. All of the original bells were destroyed, except for one, called Emmanuel and weighing 13 tonnes.

Restoration: In 2013, the cathedral celebrated its 850 years by refurbishing its grand organ. Each of the almost 8,000 pipes, some of which date from the 18th century, were cleaned and returned to its place. Meanwhile, nine new, gargantuan bells replaced the 19th century ones.

Visitors: An average of 30,000 people a day visit the cathedral.

Pictures: Notre-Dame through the years:

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10:55 French embassy in UAE 'shares sorrow'

France's embassy in the UAE commented via Twitter this morning on the terrible events of last night in the French capital.

It wrote: "The Embassy of France in the UAE shares the emotion and sorrow felt by our community following the fire that struck the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral this night, a symbol of our capital and world heritage."

It then added: "As announced by the President of the Republic, a national subscription to rebuild Notre Dame will be launched this Tuesday, April 16, 2019. In these sad moments, let us make our eternal motto of Paris: Fluctuat NEC Mergitur!"

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10:37 Arnault family to donate €200 million for reconstruction

Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH. AFP
Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH. AFP

LVMH, the French luxury goods conglomerate, owned by Bernard Arnault, will donate €200 million for Notre-Dame reconstruction efforts, France's Europe1 television reports.

The donation follows Francois-Henri Pinault, chief executive of the Kering group, €100 million pledge.

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09:45 UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs comments

Dr Anwar Gargash called the incident "a terrible catastrophe" in a tweet last night. He said he was "very saddened" by the fire and labelled Notre-Dame a "sacred landmark".

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09:20 Fire cause 'still not known'

Smoke rises around the altar in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Smoke rises around the altar in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The cause of the fire at Paris's landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral is still not known and authorities are continuing their investigation into how it started, the French junior interior minister, Laurent Nunez, said on Tuesday morning.

"The fire is under control but not totally extinguished," Mr Nunez said outside the smoldering cathedral.

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08:45 Could the fire have been stopped more quickly?

Experts say the combination of a structure that is more than 850 years old, built with heavy timber construction and soaring open spaces, and lacking sophisticated fire-protection systems led to the quick rise of flames.

"Very often when you're confronted with something like this, there's not much you can do," Glenn Corbett, a professor of fire science at John Jay College, told AP.

Some of the factors that made the cathedral a must-see for visitors to Paris – its age, sweeping size and French Gothic design featuring masonry walls and tree trunk-sized wooden beams – also made it a tinderbox and a difficult place to fight a fire, said US Fire Administrator G Keith Bryant.

With a building like that, it is nearly impossible for firefighters to attack a fire from within. Instead, they have to be more defensive "and try to control the fire from the exterior," said Bryant, a former fire chief in Oklahoma and past president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. "When a fire gets that well-involved it's very difficult to put enough water on it to cool it to bring it under control," he said.

Firefighters are seen working in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris early on April 16, 2019. A huge fire that devastated Notre-Dame Cathedral is "under control", the Paris fire brigade said early April 16, 2019, after firefighters spent hours battling the flames. French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, after a colossal fire tore through the building, sending the spire crashing to the ground and wiping out centuries of heritage. The main structure of Notre-Dame cathedral in central Paris has been saved after hours of fire-fighting to put out a devastating blaze, the city's top fire official said late on April 15. / AFP / Zakaria ABDELKAFI
Firefighters are seen working in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris early on April 16, 2019. AFP

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08:35 Blaze being treated as an accident

The Paris prosecutors' office said investigators were treating the blaze that destroyed part of Notre-Dame as an accident for now.

The prosecutors' office said late last night that they have ruled out arson, including possible terror-related motives for starting the blaze. Prosecutors say said police will conduct an investigation into "involuntary destruction caused by fire".

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08:25 French billionaire offers €100m to rebuild Notre-Dame

French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault has pledged €100 million on Monday towards the rebuilding of Notre-Dame.

In a statement sent to AFP, the chief executive of the Kering group, which owns Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent fashion houses, said the money for "the effort necessary to completely rebuild Notre-Dame" would be paid by the Pinault family's investment company, Artemis.

Here are some further reaction from the Obamas ...

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08:20 Fate of the stained glass windows

AFP is reporting that the survival of Notre-Dame's three great stained-glass rose windows, each of which tells a Bible story, is still uncertain.

At least one appeared still intact after firefighters spent hours battling the blaze.

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08:18 The moment the spire fell

For those who are yet to see the dramatic moment the historic spire was destroyed by the fire, here is a footage ...

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08:15 'One of the great monuments to the best of civilisation'

People in the art world watched with shock and wept as a fierce fire ripped through the building.

One medieval art expert called the Gothic church built over centuries "one of the great monuments to the best of civilization".

Barbara Boehm, senior curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's medieval Cloisters branch in New York, told the Associated Press the flames were a reminder: "Civilization is just so fragile."

Her voice shook as she tried to put what Notre-Dame means into words.

Others expressed fear for works of art inside the cathedral, including the famous stained-glass rose windows.

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08:00 World leaders respond to the incident

Tributes poured in overnight from all over the globe and world leaders responded quickly to the crisis.

"My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral," British Prime Minister Theresa May said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "It is with deep sadness that I am watching the events in Paris.”

US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, suggested the use of "flying water tankers".

You can read more on the world reaction here

Updated: April 16, 2019 09:00 PM

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