France launches global contest to design new Notre-Dame spire

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A picture taken on April 16, 2019 shows the altar surrounded by charred debris inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in the aftermath of a fire that devastated the cathedral. – French investigators probing the devastating blaze at Notre-Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019, questioned workers who were renovating the monument on April 16, as hundreds of millions of euros were pledged to restore the historic masterpiece. As firefighters put out the last smouldering embers, a host of French billionaires and companies stepped forward with offers of cash worth around 600 million euros ($680 million) to remake the iconic structure. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP)

France will invite architects from around the world to submit designs for rebuilding the spire of Notre-Dame cathedral that was destroyed in a devastating blaze, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Wednesday.

The goal is “to give Notre-Dame a new spire that is adapted to the techniques and the challenges of our era,” Philippe told reporters a day after President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the cathedral “even more beautifully” within five years.

Thousands of Parisians and tourists watched in horror Monday as flames engulfed a monument that has symbolised Paris for nearly a millennium, toppling the spire and gutting a large part of the roof.

No sooner had firefighters extinguished the flames than pledges of donations towards rebuilding it began to pour in.

Within 24 hours, the pledges had reached more than 800 million euros ($900 million), with French business magnates and corporations jostling to outshine each other with displays of generosity.

‘Long, complex’ investigation
Investigators trying to determine the cause of the blaze are questioning workers who were renovating the steeple, an operation suspected of accidentally triggering the blaze.

The police have already spoken to around 30 people from five different construction companies.

Public prosecutor Remy Heitz has said the investigation threatened to be “long and complex”.

Meanwhile, work to secure the cathedral continued Wednesday.

Junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said Tuesday that although “some weaknesses” had been identified, overall the building was “holding up OK”.

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