France's Richest Man Pledges €200m To Rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral
France's richest man Bernard Arnault has pledged €200m (£170m) to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral.
In a statement released by the Moet and Louis Vuitton boss, he said: "The Arnault family and the LVMH group, in solidarity with this national tragedy, are associated with the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, symbol of France, its heritage and its unity.
"In the meantime, the LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the state and the concerned authorities all its teams, creative, architectural, financial, to help the long work of reconstruction on the one hand, and of fundraising on the other hand."
This sees him double the amount already offered by Gucci boss François-Henri Pinault, who also promised to help restore the 850-year-old monument.
These generous donations come after French President Emmanuel Macron announced a national fundraising effort to rebuild the devastated cathedral.
Mr Macron wrote on Twitter: "The Notre Dame cathedral, we will rebuild it. All together. It is a part of our French destiny. I am committed to this: from tomorrow a national subscription will be launched and far beyond our borders."
Earlier this morning French firefighters confirmed the blaze that had engulfed the iconic building had finally been extinguished, around 15 hours after it began.
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According to the Independent, the exact cause of the fire is unknown at the moment but French media outlets have reported the Parisian fire brigade to have said it is 'potentially linked' to a major renovation project on the church's spire.
The Paris prosecutor's office ruled out arson and possible terror-related motives - it is now being treated as an accident.
Thankfully, all precious artefacts and artwork have been saved from the historic building, according to a Notre Dame cathedral priest.
According to the BBC, these items included what is claimed to be the crown of thorns worn by Jesus before his crucifixion and also a tunic, which King Louis IX is said to have worn when he delivered the crown of thorns to Paris.
In a tweet, French journalist Nicolas Delesalle cited Père Frédéric, writing: "Good news: all the works of art were saved. The treasure of the Cathedral is intact, the Crown of thorns, the Holy sacraments."
The fire started at around 18:30 (16:30 GMT) with the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, describing the fire as 'terrible' and urging people to stay away from the blaze.
She said: "A terrible fire is underway at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The @PompiersParis are trying to control the flames. We are mobilised on the spot in close connection with the @dioceseParis. I ask everyone to respect the security perimeter."
The construction of Notre Dame - which means 'Our Lady' - began in 1160 and was mostly completed a hundred years later in 1260. It has been modified on numerous occasions throughout the centuries since.
Featured Image Credit: PA