French billionaire Pinault pledges $113 million for Notre Dame

French billionaire François-Henri Pinault, the chief executive of luxury group Kering and holding company Artémis, has pledged 100 million euros ($113 million) to help rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was seriously damaged in a fire.

The fire caused the almost 900-year-old cathedral's iconic spire and part of the roof to collapse.

French president Emmanuel Macron said "the worst has been avoided", and added that there would be an worldwide campaign to raise funds to rebuild what was damaged.

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What remained was a blackened shell of the monument immortalized in Victor Hugo's 1831 novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", a building that had survived nearly 900 years of tumultuous French history. The place where we survived epidemics, wars, liberation.

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Paris firefighters spokesman Gabriel Plus said "the entire fire is out" and that emergency services are now "surveying the movement of the structures and extinguishing smoldering residues". The cause is yet unknown but officials said it was possibly linked to ongoing renovation work.

"The task is - now the risk of fire has been put aside - about the building, how the structure will resist", he continued.

As the spire fell, the sky lit orange, acrid smoke rose in plumes and flames shot out the roof behind the nave. "I think of Notre Dame and I think of the Eiffel Tower". Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit invited priests across France to ring church bells in a call for prayers for the beloved Paris cathedral.

Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Gallet said firefighters would keep working overnight to cool down the building.

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