Notre-Dame's restoration ready to start as safety work completed
PARIS -- Work to shore up the Notre-Dame de Paris has been finished, allowing restoration to start at the cathedral two years after a fire destroyed the attic and sent its spire crashing through the vaults below, officials said on Saturday.
Soon after the April 2019 blaze, President Emmanuel Macron said the cathedral - which dates back to the 12th century - would be rebuilt and later promised to get it reopened to worshippers by 2024, when France hosts the Olympic Games.
The final phase of efforts to secure its structure included reinforcing the fire-damaged vaults with giant wooden arch-shaped frames, the state agency leading the work said, adding that it was on track to meet Macron's reopening target date.
The cathedral will be restored to its previous design, including the 96-meter (315-feet) spire designed by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc in the mid-1800s and for which new timber has been selected.
Restoration work is expected to start during the coming months following a bidding process to select companies. Before that, a cleaning operation for the building's interior walls and floor will start this month, the agency said in a statement.
The fire at Notre Dame caused shock in France and around the world. Tearful Parisians and stunned tourists gazed in disbelief while the inferno raged at the cathedral, which marks the very center of Paris.
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Matthieu Protard Editing by Helen Popper)