Lockdown stalls Notre-Dame’s rebirth

PARIS (AFP) – Perched over the gaping roof of Notre-Dame, a crane stands idle above the silent Paris cathedral, where repair work has ground to a halt one year after the monstrous blaze that nearly destroyed one of the world’s most revered monuments.

Millions around the world watched in horror last April 15 as firefighters battled through the night to save the 13th-Century masterpiece from the fire, which ravaged its roof and toppled the steeple.

French President Emmanuel Macron promised a herculean effort to have the UNESCO heritage site restored within five years, in time for the Paris Olympics of 2024. But France’s lockdown to combat the coronavirus – which has forced a full suspension of work at the site – is making that goal even more unlikely than before.