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Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe Pledges to Help France Rebuild Fire-Ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral

Macron and Abe will discuss the agenda for the upcoming Group of Seven and Group of 20 leaders' summits that France and Japan will respectively host this year

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notre dame cathedral, japan
French President Emmanuel Macron, center right, and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wave before their talks at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, April 23, 2019. VOA

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pledging to help France rebuild the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral. Abe stopped in France Tuesday as part of his tour of Europe and North America.

Speaking alongside French president Emmanuel Macron, Abe said through a translator he “was deeply saddened by the damage inflicted to the World Heritage” building.

He said the Japanese government “will spare no effort to bring its cooperation” in the reconstruction.

notre dame cathedral, japan
Experts inspect the damaged Notre Dame cathedral after the fire in Paris, April 16, 2019, assessing the blackened shell of Paris’ iconic cathedral to establish next steps to save what remains after a devastating fire destroyed much of the almost 900-year-old building.
VOA

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Macron and Abe will discuss the agenda for the upcoming Group of Seven and Group of 20 leaders’ summits that France and Japan will respectively host this year.

In their statement at the Elysee palace, they said they will also talk about boosting economic growth through free trade, and address issues including North Korea and plastic waste in ocean. (VOA)

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Notre Dame Cathedral Will Be Rebuilt ‘Within 5 Years’ As Fire Causes Major Damage

The medieval Catholic cathedral is one of the most visited historical monuments in Europe, welcoming millions of people each year. It dates to the 12th century and is famous for featuring in Victor Hugo's classic novel, "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame."

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notre dame cathedral, japan
Experts inspect the damaged Notre Dame cathedral after the fire in Paris, April 16, 2019, assessing the blackened shell of Paris' iconic cathedral to establish next steps to save what remains after a devastating fire destroyed much of the almost 900-year-old building. VOA

French President Emmanuel Macron promised Tuesday to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral “within five years” after a fire caused extensive damage to the Parisian landmark.

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the French nation following a massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, 16 April 2019.
French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the French nation following a massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, 16 April 2019. VOA

Macron said in a nationwide televised address the 850-year-old structure would be rebuilt “even more beautifully” and called on citizens to “change this disaster into an opportunity to come together.”

The fire is out and experts are assessing the damage. Paris fire department spokesman Gabriel Plus said building specialists and architects are “surveying the movement of structures and extinguishing smoldering residues.”

Men work on a statue on a facade at Notre-Dame Cathedral after a massive fire devastated large parts of the gothic structure in Paris, France, April 16, 2019.
Men work on a statue on a facade at Notre-Dame Cathedral after a massive fire devastated large parts of the gothic structure in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. VOA

Although the fire caused massive damage to the famed Gothic edifice in central Paris, the city’s fire chief, Jean-Claude Gallet, said firefighters saved the building’s two iconic towers and stone structure.

The flames, which at one point burned 10 meters into the air above the roof, destroyed much of the cathedral’s roof and caused its central spire to collapse.

The Notre Dame Cathedral spire collapses during a fire in Paris, France April 15, 2019 in this image taken from social media video. (Instagram/@nicolas_marang)
The Notre Dame Cathedral spire collapses during a fire in Paris, France April 15, 2019 in this image taken from social media video. (Instagram/@nicolas_marang) VOA

Cathedral spokesman Andre Finot said Monday the entire wooden interior of the cathedral was likely to have been destroyed.

Paris officials said firefighters worked to save as much art work and holy objects from the 12th-century cathedral as they could. Paris Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said pieces of the purported Crown of Christ was salvaged and transported to “a secret” location.

The world-famous 18th century organ also survived, officials said, as did statues removed just days ago for restoration and other treasures inside the cathedral.

Consultant Patrick Palem (R) checks statues that were removed from the spire of Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral in a workshop at the Socra company for restoration work in Marsac-sur-L'Isle, France, April 16, 2019.
Consultant Patrick Palem (R) checks statues that were removed from the spire of Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral in a workshop at the Socra company for restoration work in Marsac-sur-L’Isle, France, April 16, 2019. VOA

It is not clear what caused the blaze, although fire officials said the blaze may be linked to renovation work at the building.

Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said 50 investigators are involved in the “long and complex” effort to find the cause. Heitz said investigators would interview workers from five companies working on the restoration. A spokesman for one of the companies, Julien le Bras, said “all the security measures were respected” by its 12 workers who he said are “participating in the investigation with no hesitation.”

A Vatican statement expressing shock and sadness and called Notre Dame a “symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said Tuesday on Twitter Pope Francis is praying “for those who are trying to cope with this dramatic situation.”

Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 16, 2019.
Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. VOA

The fire occurred during the holiest week of the year for Christians. It occurred less than a week before Easter and during Catholic Holy Week commemorations. An Easter Mass had been planned at the cathedral on Sunday.

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The medieval Catholic cathedral is one of the most visited historical monuments in Europe, welcoming millions of people each year. It dates to the 12th century and is famous for featuring in Victor Hugo’s classic novel, “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.” (VOA)