Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral

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11:10 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Firefighters saved many precious artworks from the Notre Dame blaze

Statues which sat around the spire of the Notre-Dame cathedral stored in a workshop before restoration at Marsac-sur-Isle, near Bordeaux, on Tuesday.
Statues which sat around the spire of the Notre-Dame cathedral stored in a workshop before restoration at Marsac-sur-Isle, near Bordeaux, on Tuesday. GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images

Many of the most valuable works of art inside Notre Dame Cathedral were saved by firefighters and have been relocated to safety, French Culture Minister Franck Riester told reporters on Tuesday.

Items rescued include the Crown of Thorns, which some believe was placed on the head of Jesus and which the cathedral calls its "most precious and most venerated relic." The linen Tunic of St Louis was also saved, and both items have been moved to Paris City Hall, Riester said.

Other works are being taken to Paris' renowned art museum, the Louvre, and relocation will continue throughout Tuesday and Wednesday.

"As for the large artwork, the “May de Notre-Dame”, this can be moved from Notre-Dame from Friday morning," he said. "It seems from a first examination that while the fire has not caused any damage, there is some smoke damage."

"We’ll move these items safely to the Louvre storage facilities, where they will be dehumidified, protected, conserved and restored," he added.

Riester also said the famous rose windows at the north and south of the cathedral "do not appear for now to have sustained catastrophic damage."

The Crown of Thorns.
The Crown of Thorns. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

7:32 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Nearly half a billion euros has now been pledged to rebuild Notre Dame

Billionaires and businesses continue to pledge vast financial sums towards the rebuild of the Notre Dame.

The latest commitment has come from French oil and gas company Total. The company's CEO, Patrick Pouyanné, tweeted it will put €100 million ($113 million) to the reconstruction efforts.

That matches the pledge made by French billionaire François Pinault earlier. The family of Bernard Arnault, the French business magnate who owns luxury goods and fashion house LVMH, has promised to contribute €200 million ($226 million), and tech company Capgemini also said it is contributing €1 million.

The total amount pledged by French businesses and business leaders is so far is €401 million ($453 million). That number doesn't include the €50 million euros ($56 million) put towards the Cathedral by Paris city hall.

7:04 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

What photos taken inside Notre Dame reveal about the fire

Amid the smoldering rubble, the candles inside Notre Dame were still burning.

CNN has exclusively obtained a series of remarkable photos taken inside the cathedral shortly after a fire partially destroyed large portions of the historic building.

They show that some candles -- lit by visitors offering prayers in the hours before the blaze began -- were still burning in the nave in the wake of the devastating blaze.

They also reveal blocks of white rubble scattered across the cathedral floor, embers falling from a hole in the roof, and water still issuing from a hose pointed inside the building.

The pictures, believed to have been taken in the early hours of Tuesday morning and passed to CNN, paint an eerie picture of one of France's most famous and visited sites.

See them below.

6:23 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Queen Elizabeth II "deeply saddened" by fire

Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has sent a message of condolence to French President Emmanuel Macron following the fire at Notre Dame.

The monarch said she was "deeply saddened" by the blaze and sent her "sincere admiration" to the firefighters who tackled the fire.

Here's the full message:

"Prince Philip and I have been deeply saddened to see the images of the fire which has engulfed Notre-Dame Cathedral. 
I extend my sincere admiration to the emergency services who have risked their lives to try to save this important national monument. 
My thoughts and prayers are with those who worship at the Cathedral and all of France at this difficult time."
Elizabeth R.
5:46 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Dramatic video of firefighting efforts released

Paris' fire department has released a video documenting their efforts to extinguish the Notre Dame fire on Monday evening and through the night.

The footage shows dramatic close-up scenes of the fire, as well as overhead shots which illustrate the extent of the blaze.

Firefighters extinguished the fire after battling it for nine hours, the department said earlier. Around 400 firefighters were involved.

Watch the video below.

5:36 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

"The heart in ashes": how French papers reacted

French newspapers are predictably dominated by images of the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral ablaze and swathed in smoke on Monday evening.

Le Monde released a special edition of its paper as the cathedral -- the name of which translates to "Our Lady" -- became engulfed in fire. "Our Lady, our history," their front-page headline reads, alongside a poignant picture of a boat passing by on the Seine as the historic building burns.

"Our Tragedy" reads the front page of Libération, which features a photograph of the dramatic moment when the Cathedral's gothic spire collapsed.

A similar image adorns the front page of local newspaper Le Parisien, alongside the headline "Our Lady of Tears." The paper is owned by LVMH, the fashion conglomerate whose CEO, Bernard Arnault, earlier pledged a €200 million ($226 million) donation to help fund rebuilding efforts.

French Catholic newspaper La Croix also showed the spire's collapse on its front page, accompanied by the moving headline: "The heart in ashes."

5:29 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Fire was an accident, official says

Valérie Pécresse, the President of the Île-de-France region in which Paris lies, has told reporters that the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral was an accident.

"This was an accident. It wasn’t intentional," she said.

Pécresse said the region would unlock an emergency fund of €10 million euros ($11.3 million) to help in the rebuild efforts.

4:49 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Donors pledge hundreds of millions to rebuild effort

Damage to the exterior of the Cathedral on Tuesday morning.
Damage to the exterior of the Cathedral on Tuesday morning. BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, says she is planning a "major international conference of donors" to raise money for the effort to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral -- as multimillionaires continue to pledge vast sums towards its reconstruction.

The family of Bernard Arnault, the French business magnate who owns luxury goods and fashion house LVMH, has promised to contribute €200 million ($226 million).

In a statement, the family called Notre Dame an "extraordinary cathedral" and "a symbol of France, its heritage and its unity."

The donation comes after French billionaire François Pinault pledged €100 million ($113 million) to the reconstruction of the fire-ravaged cathedral.

Hidalgo said on Twitter that she is ready to host a fundraising event at Paris City Hall, adding that the event would attract patrons from "all over the world."

The mayor also said she will mobilize a fund she started for the city in 2015, and noted that the city has a budget of 80 million euros already in place for the restoration of its churches.

4:04 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Fire extinguished after nine hours

ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI/AFP/Getty Images
ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI/AFP/Getty Images

Firefighters have extinguished the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, after battling the blaze for nine hours, the city's fire brigade said earlier.

The fire broke out Monday evening and raged for several hours before 400 firefighters, working with skill and precision to avoid further damage to the medieval landmark, managed to bring it under control.