Billionaires and private donors mobilise to rebuild Notre-Dame

Smoke billows from the Notre Dame Cathedral after a fire broke out in Paris France

"We will rebuild the cathedral together", Macron said in a statement outside of the cathedral, adding that France would start an worldwide fundraising campaign to raise money for the renovations.

Bishop Robert Coerver of Lubbock in Texas, United States for example released a statement stressing the spiritual significance and aesthetic beauty of the cathedral, and praying for the safety of all Catholics in the French capital.

The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding.

French President Emmanuel Macron, addressing the nation close to midnight, vowed to rebuild it and would call on the world's "greatest talents" to help.

Nearing midnight, signs pointed to the fire nearing an end as lights could be seen through the windows moving around the front of the cathedral, apparently investigators inspecting the scene.

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In a statement, the Vatican said it learned of the fire at the 850-year-old Gothic building with "shock and sadness".

The cathedral was damaged and looted during the French Revolution, when many people associated the Catholic church with France's rulers, who they were protesting against. It's part of our legacy, common heritage. Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit invited priests across France to ring church bells in a call for prayers.

"But", the Pope went on, "I recognize that it has also affected a national symbol dear to the hearts of Parisians and French people, in the diversity of their convictions".

Their archrival, the Arnault family, responded minutes later with a pledge of 200 million euros and the architectural and design resources of their LVMH fashion conglomerate.

Firefighters have said the blaze which destroyed parts of the medieval building in Paris on Monday night has now been fully extinguished.

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Also of concern, Feydeau said, is the organ, "a very fragile instrument, especially its pipes". He and his father, Francois Pinault, announced Tuesday that they would donate €100 million ($113 million) from their Artemis investment company.

The elder Pinault, 82, is the world's 23rd richest person, with a fortune estimated at $37.3 billion (€30.04 billion), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. While many priceless artifacts were saved, including the Crown of Thorns, much of the building has been badly damaged by fire, smoke and water.

Peter Fuessenich, who oversees reconstruction for the Gothic cathedral in Cologne, Germany, said it could take decades to fix Notre Dame. Greece also offered to contribute to the restoration effort.

Some gripes emerged on social media over the huge fiscal deductions companies in both France and the USA would be eligible for, with commentators saying taxpayers would be footing much of the final bill.

This year, long-haul flights are more popular than usual as most Japanese will have 10 consecutive days off due to the ascension of a new emperor on May 1.

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