Photo Credit: French Interior Ministry drone footage screen grab
Cathedral of Notre Dame ablaze, April 15 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed Monday to rebuild the Cathedral of Notre Dame after the historic edifice went up in flames, wiping out centuries of culture, heritage and art.

“We will rebuild Notre Dame because it is what the French expect,” Macron said, calling the cathedral the “epicenter of our life,” whether religious or not.

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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his thoughts known on the Twitter social networking site, writing, “I express my deep sorrow over the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, a cultural and religious heritage site of France and of all humanity. We hope the firefighting efforts will succeed.”

Drone footage released by the French Interior Ministry shows the massive, deeply complex, and delicate battle fought by the hundreds of firefighters who worked to save the world-famous cathedral.

To watch the video, click here.

Macron said he intended to launch a worldwide fundraising campaign on Tuesday that would provide the resources to rebuild the iconic structure.

The French billionaire Pinault dynasty has pledged €100 million ($113 million) to help reconstruct Notre Dame. “This tragedy strikes all the French, and well beyond that, all those dedicated to spiritual values,” Francois-Henri Pinault, president of the Artemis Group holding company said in a statement to the French news agency AFP. “Faced with such a tragedy, everyone wishes to revive this jewel of our heritage as quickly as possible.”

The family holdings include the Christie’s auction house, Gucci, Balenciaga, Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Alexander McQueen.

Though the cathedral continued to burn through the night and on into the early morning of Tuesday, authorities said the flames were under control – and that some objets d’art and important relics had been saved.

The structure’s iconic bell towers survived intact, as did the facade, providing a base from which to begin to rebuild again.

But as the UNESCO World Heritage site continued to burn, thousands of people just stood and watched and held each other, weeping and singing sacred music and praying through the night Monday as 400 firefighters battled the flames that consumed the spire, roof, stained-glass windows and much of the interior of the 850-year-old structure.

A police task force later began the task of investigating the tragedy, which at first officials vehemently denied had anything to do with arson.

Investigators have begun questioning 15 of the workers carrying out the recent renovations, according to international news reports.

One firefighter was badly injured while fighting the blaze.

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