Notre Dame Cathedral is not saved yet: Renovation chief

A worker cleans debris during preliminary work to repair the fire damage at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. (Photo: AP)

The French general who is overseeing the reconstruction of the fire-devastated Notre Dame Cathedral says the Paris landmark is not saved yet.

Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin told French broadcaster CNews on Sunday that “the cathedral is still in a state of peril” after last year’s fire, which destroyed its roof and collapsed its spire as the cathedral was undergoing renovations.

“Notre Dame is not saved because ... there is an extremely important step ahead, which is to remove the scaffolding that had been built around the spire” before the fire, he said.

The rector of Notre Dame, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, told the AP last month that the cathedral is still so fragile there’s a “50% chance” the structure might not be saved, because the scaffolding may fall onto its fragile vaults.

A former chief of staff of France's armed forces, Georgelin was named by French President Emmanuel Macron to lead the reconstruction effort for Notre Dame.

He said the actual condition of the cathedral's vaults is not fully known, which means he could not guarantee that “it won't fall apart.”

Still, Georgelin says “reassuring” observations have been made on the 12th-century cathedral since the April 15 inferno, he said.

“So we feel quite confident," he added.

The scaffolding on Notre Dame should be removed by mid-2020 and the restoration work should start next year, he said.

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