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France announces global architects’ competition to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral

A couple view the damage to the Notre Dame cathedral from a print venders space on the Left Bank in Paris, Wednesday, April 17, 2019. Nearly $1 billion has already poured in from ordinary worshippers and high-powered magnates around the world to restore Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after a massive fire. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS — The French prime minister has announced an international architects’ competition to rebuild the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral.

Edouard Philippe will speak following a special Cabinet meeting Wednesday held by French President Emmanuel Macron, focusing on the reconstruction of the cathedral.

Philippe said the competition aims at “giving Notre Dame a spire adapted to technologies and challenges of our times.”

He said authorities have no estimate yet of the total cost of the renovation work. Macron said Tuesday he wants the cathedral to be rebuilt in five years.

Bishop Patrick Chauvet acknowledged that the famed monument would close down for “five to six years” as he spoke with local business owners Wednesday, two days after a blaze torched the roof of the cathedral and brought down its spire.

Presidential cultural heritage envoy Stephane Bern told broadcaster France-Info on Wednesday that 880 million euros ($995 million) has been raised so far from ordinary worshippers and high-powered magnates around the world to restore Notre Dame Cathedral. Contributors include Apple and magnates who own L’Oreal, Chanel and Dior, as well as Catholics and others from around France and the world.

Authorities consider the fire an accident.