Dutch PM wishes France strength after Notre-Dame fire

A devastating fire at Notre-Dame in Paris, 15 April 2019
A devastating fire at Notre-Dame in Paris, 15 April 2019Photo: LeLaisserPasserA38/Wikipedia

Prime Minister Mark Rutte expressed his support to French president Emmanuel Macron after a devastating fire in the Notre-Dame in Paris. "Paris and France were hit hard by a scorching fire in Notre-Dame, one of the most iconic buildings on our continent. This destructive fire is felt throughout Europe. Just wished Emmanuel Macron a lot of strength with this enormous catastrophe", the Dutch Prime Minister said on Twitter. 

The fire broke out in the ancient cathedral shortly before 7:00 p.m., according to NOS. The spire collapsed in the middle of the night, though the two iconic towers and the structure of the building seem to have been saved. At around 3:00 a.m., a spokesperson for the fire department said that the fire is under control, though firefighters are still working on extinguishing it completely. The building's structure is being cooled as much as possible. 

At this stage it is believed that the fire may have been caused by construction work in the cathedral. Scaffolding was placed around the spire. The French Public Prosecution Service is talking to the construction workers. 

Some 70 percent of the art in the cathedral is feared lost, according to NOS. Three important relics of Christ - the crown of thorns, a piece of the cross and a nail from the crucifixion - were saved from the flames, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said. Last week, 16 copper statues around the spire were removed to be restored, so they too survived the flames.

Firefighters and experts are still examining the damage done to the ancient cathedral. So far it is clear that about two thirds of the church's roof was destroyed. According to Patrick Chauvet, the rector of the cathedral, the entire wooden interior was also lost. The Notre-Dame website states that the wooden frame dates from 1147 and is one of the oldest buildings in Paris, along with the church of Montmartre.

France is already determined to rebuild and repair Notre-Dame. President Macron said that there will be an international fundraising campaign. Various agencies and individuals already started online fundraisers. The owner of fashion brand Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent promised 100 million euros for the reconstruction. 

The Dutch Embassy in Paris said that it is shocked by the fire. "A disaster for the beautiful heritage of France. We are closely following developments", the embassy said on Facebook.