Macron praises 'immense' restoration work on Notre-Dame Cathedral

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French President Emmanuel Macron has hailed progress on restoring Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, two years after the fire destroyed its roof and spire. But the job is not yet done, with much more to be completed in order to meet the government's target of reopening for worship by April 2024.

Visiting Notre-Dame, two years to the day after the world watched transfixed in horror as flames ravaged the cathedral, Macron said "immense" restoration work had already been accomplished.

"In the next three years, a demanding and rigorous planning must be respected to meet our targets," he said.

While the cathedral's spire collapsed and much of the roof was destroyed on the evening of 15 April 2019, the efforts of firefighters ensured the great medieval edifice survived.

Macron set a five-year restoration target in the immediate aftermath of the fire, which would mean the cathedral could be visited again when Paris hosts the 2024 summer Olympics.

He reiterated the objective a year later, despite delays brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

While Notre-Dame is set to be reopened for worship in April 2024, restoration work will continue beyond that date, according to Jean-Louis Georgelin, a former general handpicked by Macron to lead the effort.

Donation campaign

The efforts have been boosted by some 833 million euros collected in a national and international donation campaign launched immediately after the fire, although this may not be enough to push the restoration over the finishing line.

Investigators are trying to shed more light on the causes of the fire.

An accident, possibly caused by a short circuit or discarded cigarette butt, remains a likely explanation, but the extent of the damage has made drawing any final conclusions impossible.

(with AFP)