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Notre Dame to be closed for up to 6 years, future of 67 employees uncertain

AP| PTI/Paris 17 Apr 19 | 05:05 PM

Notre Dame's rector says he will close the burned-out Paris cathedral for up to six years.

Bishop Patrick Chauvet acknowledged that the famed monument would close down for "five to six years" as he spoke with local business owners Wednesday, two days after a blaze torched the roof of the cathedral and brought down its spire.

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Chauvet said "a segment of the cathedral has been very weakened" by the devastating fire. He did not elaborate which section he was talking about.

ALSO READ: Notre-Dame de Paris: From searing emotion to the rebirth of a heritage site

He added it was unclear what the church's 67 employees would be doing in the future.

The French prime minister has announced an international architects' competition to rebuild the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral.

Edouard Philippe is speaking following a special Cabinet meeting Wednesday held by French President Emmanuel Macron, focusing on the reconstruction of the cathedral.

Philippe said the competition aims at "giving Notre Dame a spire adapted to technologies and challenges of our times."

He said authorities have no estimate yet of the total cost of the renovation work. Macron said Tuesday he wants the cathedral to be rebuilt in five years.

ALSO READ: Notre Dame fire: Why we are so moved by the plight of some heritage sites?

Philippe said: "This is obviously a huge challenge, a historic responsibility."

The Paris prosecutor's office says investigators looking into the causes of the Notre Dame fire have still not been able to look inside the cathedral, as it remains unsafe.

Investigators will continue with interviews Wednesday, saying the inquiry will go on until prosecutors uncover "the truth and identify the origin" of the blaze.

ALSO READ: Paris' 850-year-old cathedral Notre-Dame gutted; main structure 'saved'

On Tuesday, investigators spoke with around 30 witnesses, including employees of companies involved in the church's restoration and security personnel.

The Czech Philharmonic and other major Czech orchestras will join forces to play a fundraising concert to help restore Notre Dame Cathedral, heavily damaged by a devastating fire.

The Czech Philharmonic says the orchestras will perform Antonin Dvorak's "Stabat Mater" in St. Vitus Cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece, in Prague on Tuesday.

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