French President Emmanuel Macron attended the scene where the devastating fire at France’s Notre Dame Cathedral took place on Monday, according to a report by The Guardian. Macron gave a speech in which he vowed to “rebuild” the cathedral.
“Notre Dame is our history, our literature, part of our psyche, the place of all our great events, our epidemics, our wars, our liberations, the epicenter of our lives… So I solemnly say tonight: we will rebuild it together.”
Macron said he is intending to raise funds through a campaign which will go toward repairing the historic building. François-Henri Pinault, French billionaire and CEO of international luxury group Kering, has already pledged 100 million Euros toward the rebuild. Macron canceled a speech he was due to make earlier on TV which was going to address the recent protests that have been occurring in France.
The fire, which has destroyed the 850-year-old structure’s spire and collapsed the roof, was observed by thousands of witnesses watching the horror unfold on Monday night, many of whom were weeping and praying. The cathedral was undergoing some restoration work when the fire began, and investigators are saying that it was an accident. According to the BBC, 16 copper statues were removed last week.
Macron praised the firefighters who worked tirelessly to combat the blaze, saying that the “worst had been avoided.” Culture minister Franck Riester remains hopeful despite the damage that has been caused. He goes on to state that the “two belfries were saved” and while it has yet to be determined how much damage has been caused to the priceless art that was inside, Riester says they are “optimistic.”
He tweeted that security forces had already removed some of the artifacts from inside.
Les agents du @MinistereCC, épaulés par les équipes de l’archevêché, les @PompiersParis et les forces de sécurité, évacuent les œuvres se trouvant à l’intérieur de la cathédrale. Elles sont progressivement mises en sécurité. #NotreDame pic.twitter.com/iINHyUqJME
— Franck Riester (@franckriester) April 15, 2019
The Notre Dame Cathedral, which was built in the 12th century and immortalized in Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, attracts around 13 million tourists each year. The spire was added in the 19th century. The world-famous monument has survived two world wars, and the last time it was damaged by a fire was during the French Revolution in the late 18th century.
The devastating fire which threatened to destroy the cathedral has been brought under control as of Tuesday morning. However, officials are saying that residual fires will still need to be tackled. Others who have spoken out about the disaster include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, and the Vatican.