World Leaders Express Solidarity With France in Wake of Notre Dame Fire

The first and second richest men in France are still slugging it out through cultural capital

The first and second richest men in France are slugging it out through cultural capital- in particular their architectural projects. Credit Getty

Almost 1 billion has already poured in from ordinary worshippers and high-powered magnates around the world to restore the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, after the French president set a controversial five-year deadline to get the work done. In an interview with the Associated Press, he noted that the cathedral's roof can not be rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire because "we don't, at the moment, have trees on our territory of the size that were cut in the 13th century". As more pictures emerge of these firefighters tackling the horrific blaze Monday night, we can begin to appreciate the determination of these fearless men and women as they did their very best to save the historic cathedral.

"Our Lady of Paris in flames", Macron said, "I am sad tonight to see this part of us burn".

The exact cause of the blaze wasn't known, but French media quoted the fire brigade as saying it was "potentially linked" to a 6 million euro ($6.8 million) renovation project on the church's spire and its 250 tons of lead.

Hopes for a rebuild of the iconic cathedral are strong among Parisians the ABC spoke with.

More than 400 firefighters fought for 12 hours to bring the blaze under control.

A firefighter suffered injuries during the blaze, which at one point threatened to bring down one of the two monumental towers on the western facade of the cathedral that is visited by 13 million tourists each year.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, said in a statement that first responders and city workers "formed a human chain" to recover any relics that could be saved from the cathedral.

French President Emmanuel Macron ratcheted up the pressure by setting a five-year deadline to restore the 12th-century landmark. She proposed an global donor conference in Paris and the Heritage Fund set up an worldwide fundraiser for private donations for the reconstruction.

A spokesman for Paris's firefighters said on Tuesday morning, "the entire fire is out".

French billionaire Bernard Arnault and his LVMH luxury conglomerate, rival high-end designer goods group Kering, Total oil company and cosmetics giant L'Oreal each pledged 100 million euros or more. His son, François-Henri Pinault, 56, who heads the family firm, said: "It's the nation". Other wealthy families vowed to give a further 20 million euros ($22m).

Additional money for the restoration will also come from a church fund created by Hidalgo several years ago that has a budget of 80 million euros.

'We will rebuild Notre Dame even more beautifully and I want it to be completed in five years, we can do it, ' Macron said in a television address to the nation.

As Notre Dame burned, words of grief poured in from around the globe and from world leaders. President Donald Trump called the cathedral "one of the great treasures of the world."Pope Francis, Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen all expressed their sadness.Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri expressed sadness over the fire he described as a "heritage and humanitarian disaster".

England's Queen Elizabeth II said she was "deeply saddened to see the images of the fire which has engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral".

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