Notre Dame: experts assess damage after fire extinguished

'The soul of France is burning': French Jews shocked by Notre Dame blaze

Notre-Dame: Why is the cathedral so important to so many people?

Noting that Notre Dame held a service for victims of the 2011 quake and tsunami that hit Sendai and other areas of northeastern Japan, Kato said "It is now our turn to support France".

French President Emmanuel Macron has said the cathedral will be rebuilt. Flames that began in the early evening rapidly burst through the roof of cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, quickly followed by the entire roof.

Ying Xin, a Chinese dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company in NY, posted a video on Instagram of a dance she improvised in front of Notre Dame past year.

Firefighters who entered the burning building saved many of its treasures, Riester said, although some paintings remained inside and risked smoke and water damage. It's part of our legacy, common heritage.

Disney's story was inspired by the romantic gothic novel "Notre-Dame de Paris", which was written by French novelist Victor Hugo in 1831. "Our friendship and prayers to @Eglisecatho, and especially to Mgr Aupetit", the chief rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, tweeted, addressing the Bishops' Conference of France, and the archbishop of Paris Monsignor Michel Aupetit.

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Two of the country's richest tycoons pledged millions to the fund. François Pinault, the head of Kering, which owns fashion labels including Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Gucci, pledged €100m from his family's fortune.

The roof can not be rebuilt exactly as it was because "we don't, at the moment, have trees on our territory of the size that were cut in the 13th century", said Bertrand de Feydeau, vice-president of preservation group Fondation du Patrimoine, adding the roof restoration work would have to use new technology.

"The organ is a very fragile instrument, especially its pipes".

Pinault and his family were #30 on this year's Forbes Rich List, with a current estimated net worth of $35 billion United States dollars. He and his father, Francois Pinault, announced Tuesday that they would donate €100 million ($113 million) from their Artemis investment company.

Japanese philosopher Tatsuru Uchida, who is well-versed in French culture, said, "I made it a rule to visit Notre-Dame to pray for a safe trip whenever I went to Paris".

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This year, long-haul flights are more popular than usual as most Japanese will have 10 consecutive days off due to the ascension of a new emperor on May 1.

The government's announcement on Wednesday added to a question many are asking as France grieves for its national symbol - whether the familiar outline at the heart of the capital should be restored as it was or given a modern twist.

The painstaking renovation work is likely to cost hundreds of millions of euros over several years, if not decades, though experts breathed sighs of relief that the damage was not even worse.

Associated Press writers Angela Charlton, John Leicester, Sylvie Corbet and Elaine Ganley in Paris, Nicole Winfield in Rome and Colleen Barry in Milan contributed.

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