Notre-Dame ‘will be closed for 5-6 years’, bishop says

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Notre-Dame Cathedral “will be closed for five to six years” as it recovers from Monday’s devastating fire, its rector has said.

Bishop Patrick Chauvet made the admission as he spoke to local business owners two days after a blaze that sent its 300ft spire crashing through its famous ceiling and left it minutes from total destruction.

The cleric said “a segment of the cathedral has been very weakened” by the fire, but did not say which section he was talking about.

Notre-Dame 'will be closed for 5-6 years', bishop says
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The cathedral will be closed for five to six years, its rector has said

He also said it was unclear what the church’s 67 employees would be doing in the future.

A prominent French conservation architect has cast doubt on President Macron’s demand that the reconstruction “be finished within five years”.

Pierluigi Pericolo, who helped restore Nantes’ 19th-century Saint-Donatien basilica, which was badly damaged by fire in 2015, said it would take “no less than 15 years … it’s a colossal task”.

It could take between “two to five years” just to check the stability of the massive cathedral, Mr Pericolo told Inrocks magazine.

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France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has launched a competition for international architects to restore the spire of the Paris landmark.

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Notre-Dame 'will be closed for 5-6 years', bishop says




How did the Notre-Dame fire spread?

Mr Phillipe, speaking after a special cabinet meeting focusing on the reconstruction of the cathedral, said the competition is aimed at “giving Notre-Dame a spire adapted to techniques and challenges of our times”.

He called it “a huge challenge, a historic responsibility”.

The competition would “allow us to ask the question of whether we should even recreate the spire as it was conceived by Viollet-le-Duc,” he said, or whether it should “endow Notre-Dame with a new spire”.

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Notre-Dame 'will be closed for 5-6 years', bishop says




Special Report: Notre-Dame in flames

There is no clear idea of the total cost of the renovation work, but more than €700m (£606,577) has been pledged to repair the iconic Gothic landmark, boosted by promises of financial and expert help made by tycoons and international firms.

Notre-Dame 'will be closed for 5-6 years', bishop says
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The inside of Notre-Dame after the fire

Notre-Dame was within “15 to 30” minutes of complete destruction during Monday’s fire, according to junior interior minister Laurent Nunez.

Notre-Dame 'will be closed for 5-6 years', bishop says
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The cause of the fire is not yet known

Investigators trying to discover the cause of the fire have not been able to enter the oak-framed structure because it is still unsafe, the Paris prosecutor’s office has said.

They spoke to around 30 witnesses on Tuesday, including employees of companies involved in the church’s restoration and security personnel.

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Notre-Dame 'will be closed for 5-6 years', bishop says




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