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Parisians Are Heartbroken After the Notre Dame Fires; French President Emmanuel Macron Promised to Rebuild the Church; Redacted Version of the Mueller Report Just Days Away to Congress; Reuters' Reporters Won Pulitzer Prize; Breaking News On Fire Ravages Notre Dame Cathedral In Paris. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired April 16, 2019 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States --
MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to Paris.
CHURCH: -- and all around the world. You're watching CNN special coverage of the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. I'm Rosemary Church.
FOSTER: And I'm Max Foster outside the cathedral where investigations are firmly underway as to what caused the horrible fire, devastating fire last night in the cathedral.
Firefighters clambering around the top of the bell towers there at the front. Extraordinarily, the whole facade, the iconic famous facade is still in place. But we can tell you that behind there is a scene of utter devastation.
I've spoken to a couple of people who've been inside since the fire broke out. And describing how the interior is all but destroyed. But the pews still standing interestingly and some of the statues still standing while some of the higher up artifacts have been damaged.
Many of them saved we're told overnight as well which is extraordinary in itself. We understand that the fire started in the attic. That's at least the course of the investigation. The flames spreading very quickly through the building's wooden infrastructure. That very famous roof full of wood it was called the forest because so much wood was used to build it.
The iconic spire in the middle of the church fell late in the day crashing through the roof and causing so much more damage. Pictures from above show just how massive the fire was. The roof was completely destroyed as you can see.
But French President Emmanuel Macron says he's hopeful that the cathedral can have a future once they've assessed this damage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): So, I say this very solemnly to you tonight. We will rebuild this cathedral together. And it is undoubtedly part of the French destiny and a project for the years to come. But I am committed to it.
Starting tomorrow, a national fund-raiser will be launched and well beyond our borders we will appeal to the greatest talents and many people will come to contribute to it. And we will rebuild, we will rebuild Notre Dame. Because that's what the French expect and because it is what our history deserves, because it's our underlying destiny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Actually, not much anger today on the streets. A lot of concern really about the building and a determination as you can see to get life back to usual. All these roads were closed off overnight.
So, rescue workers and firefighters, in particular could get inside. One firefighter injured, very sad, of course, but extraordinary that there weren't more injuries considering the scale of the incident in such a densely packed area.
Jim Bittermann joins us now. Jim, obviously the history speaks for itself here but many of the artifacts inside speak to it, in many ways better than the building itself and many of them were saved extraordinarily.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's true, Max, there were some indication the fire was going to be a serious one and as a consequence there is a consequence, they were able with the help of police and firemen they get some of the artifacts inside out, the Crown of Thorns relic that so many people have come to see supposedly the crown worn by Christ before he was crucified, the tunic of Louis IX. This is a famous tunic that was worn by one of the early kings of France, apparently saved.
But the archbishop of Paris who was on TV this morning talking about what had been saved and what was lost. He said there was a great deal of fear about the number of other things.
For example, these huge works of art which were all around the cathedral. They're very certainly going to be damaged at least if not completely destroyed. It remains to be seen what can be done with the stained-glass windows, a huge stained glass.
The archbishop seems to be hopeful about the historic monument, another historic monument within the historic monument, the organ of Notre Dame. This 8,000-pipe five keyboard organ famous to many Parisians because of the organ concerts every Sunday which are no more of course.
[03:05:00] But in fact, he was thinking that perhaps the organ could be saved after the fire but it's all, something that under investigation this morning, Max. As you've mentioned there are experts now going through the building to check out the infrastructure to see how solid the walls are what needs to be repaired, knock down or reconstructed.
And that's going to be, I think what's going to be the theme of this week especially going into Easter week, Easter symbolizing the resurrection of the Christian Church, the resurrection of Church, and I think that's going to be the theme the resurrection of Notre Dame as this fund-raising drive that President Macron talked about begins.
He used the word destiny. He said it's our destiny, a real strong way to put it. In fact, in his belief that Notre Dame will again stand at some point down the line, Max.
FOSTER: A real shock to so many people to see for you, Jim, and also the witnesses around here. Many coming down. Lots of eateries around here. Duncan Clark was in one of them.
DUNCAN CLARK, WITNESS TO NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL FIRE: Yes.
FOSTER: What was the first you heard?
CLARK: First of all, the smoke. I was meeting friends who are coming from the east. I was coming from the west. And we couldn't actually connect because cordons were going up. But there was very large smoke even over (Inaudible) which is just a few minutes from here.
And then you could see the flames as soon as you had direct view. My friends saw much more coming from the east with the section burning. And I stood by the towers to make sure, you know, you wanted to see whether they would stand.
FOSTER: What did you think that happened?
CLARK: I could see there was s scaffolding. You know, so the suspicion was at the beginning of course that it was related to renovation.
CLARK: You never know in Paris, of course. But you know, generally people thought it was a renovation related and we hope that's the case.
FOSTER: Lots of people are very confused about or amaze and you know, heartened by the fact there weren't more casualties.
FOSTER: Just explain how busy the area would've been, presumably at Clarens.
CLARK: Yes. I mean, obviously tens of thousands of visitors a day. At that time, I heard they evacuated very quickly. And the thing I was most concerned about was actually the firemen. I mean, you could see the --
FOSTER: Yes. CLARK: -- first responders the fire brigade was are mounting up the tower actually. So, they were on the second level. You could see their helmets, and later on in the evening, their flashlights. So, they were there not knowing whether the towers would stand. So, there was amazing bravery to witness that, and of course, the cranes that were alongside.
FOSTER: What went through your mind when you saw the spire collapsed?
CLARK: So, my friend saw that. I saw it on video. But the smoke already we knew that pretty much the whole wood, the forest you described was burning. There was no way to stop it. it was quite a strong wind as well. But obviously it was a tragic scene that I saw on my phone. But I was watching the towers from this angle here.
FOSTER: So, what was the emotion like here?
CLARK: You know, actually the small square on the corner next to (Inaudible) which is a famous musical venue. People were singing, praying.
CLARK: But people from all the denominations it wasn't necessarily purely religious. Many people were crying young and old actually.
FOSTER: Have you been heartened by the fact that people have come together in the way that they have because there's been so much political divide in the capital recently.
CLARK: Exactly. You know, actually, people are commenting. The police were, it was a very sympathetic organization in a way. There were, the cordons were there but they were helping people. They're helping each other, you know, there was definitely a sense of bonamy (ph) going on.
FOSTER: What are your questions today for the authorities in Paris?
CLARK: Well, renovations have gone wrong in other places. I mean, we think of Windsor.
CLARK: We think of even I think the Mandarin Hotel in London.
CLARK: I mean, renovations are extremely dangerous, as we know. I saw a comment saying that maybe by trying to save this church we almost destroyed it.
CLARK: So, I think there needs to be new technology it seems to me to, you know, have fire prevention and firefighting equipment. I was also wondering would there not be a boat that was able to come closer to the scene. FOSTER: They're using water, won't they, from the Seine to try to
douse the flames.
CLARK: Yes. So, I just felt it took a while, actually.
CLARK: Unless they were very brave. But it seems like they lacked perhaps some of the ladders. It just took a while for them to get enough hoses on to the scene. Either they might they're amateur --
FOSTER: Because it's such a historic building, presumably they are very concerned about causing additional damage.
CLARK: Yes. And there's this top of water bombing and so on from the planes.
CLARK: You know, we did a large plane at one point we thought always that. But it was clear they weren't going to do that.
FOSTER: We can see currently there are firefighters and investigators on the facade. Concerning for some because that look like the safe part of the building, but presumably they are going to check it out.
CLARK: Yes. Well, obviously it's connected at the nave level so we saw the flames coming constantly from the west, from this angle they were constantly putting water that way towards --
FOSTER: To push.
CLARK: -- to keep it away.
CLARK: And at some point, at one point it did looked like smoke was coming actually from the towers. That was the scariest point.
CLARK: It could have been smoke actually passing through the two towers. And by that midnight when President Emmanuel Macron was actually here in the square, we kind of knew that the towers have been saved now.
FOSTER: Well, thank you very much for describing your story to us.
FOSTER: We are getting so many stories including a report from the last hour who ended up walking him with the French delegation the French prime minister actually to the cathedral last night.
[03:10:03] So there was some chaos here but generally, it looks like it's been an exemplary rescue operation for this building.
Someone else I also spoke to is Patrick Burkowski (ph). He was at a cafe nearby, again heard what was going on and came out to see the fire for himself.
What did you first learn about this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was at the cafe by this time so I didn't really see anything because the cafe is more hidden on the other side of Notre Dame. But we could clearly can smell that something is burning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like the first we thought it maybe, it could be the kitchen smoke or something. Then the other bartender came to the pub and he said that actually the Notre Dame is on fire. So, it's something that you don't really believe but we have more drinks.
FOSTER: What sort of feeling went through when you heard that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I thought that it wasn't true.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or like, something is on fire maybe in front of Notre Dame. The other thing that what you think when something like this happens is probably the first thing is like maybe it's a terrorist attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since we know what happened back in 2015 and what France and Paris was going through. So, but then, so we left, me and my friend. And so, what we've seen at the Eiffel Tower at the back was actually on fire. So, the first thing I've done was I took the video on my Instagram. So, then we're standing there and staring at the Notre Dame surrounded by thousands of people.
FOSTER: Yes. What was the atmosphere like when you arrived?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think silence. At the beginning, I think people were talking because are recording, talking with families and everybody was calling if everything is fine. And then after when the sun went down, I think that all the people were singing songs, I mean, praying but they were very calm and it was very sad of course. I mean, this --
FOSTER: What does this mean to the city this building? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of the three or fourth most important building architecture wise in France. Like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre-Coeur, and Notre Dame. So, it's such a loss. I mean, I'm still glad that we can still see the facade in front of the church.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though I've not seen. I've seen this morning; I've seen the first the first photos from the inside of the building.
FOSTER: So, the sun rises in Paris. We assess the damage of the building and we try to figure out what relics from inside, priceless relics were saved. We'll continue to give you updates throughout the course of the day.
There will be political reactions too, and possibly some updates from the Paris prosecutor's office on what might have cause this devastating fire in Paris.
[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
FOSTER: Well, that was the scene on Monday as the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral collapses into flames. You hear gasps of parish crowds watch the destruction. The cathedral's roof was also gutted, all of this, just days before Easter. It took hours to put out the blaze but emergency crews were able to save the facade and twin bell towers.
French President Emmanuel Macron pledging to rebuilt. Expressions of empathy have come in from all over the words, from religious groups of all different types but also from politicians.
President Trump's initial response didn't go down particularly well with the French authorities as he offered some advice to the firefighters here which they didn't take particularly kindly to.
Later, though, at a conference in Minnesota he talked a bit more about what happened in this iconic building behind me?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's one of the great treasures of the world, the greatest artist in the world. Probably if you think about it, I would say that it might be greater than almost any museum in the world and it's burning very badly. It's looked looks like it's burning to the ground.
So that puts a damper on what we are about to say to be honest because that is countries, that's beyond anything. It's part of our growing up, it's a part of our culture. It's a part of our lives. That's a truly great cathedral. And I've been there and I've seen it and there's no cathedral I think I could say there's probably no cathedral in the world like it.
It's a terrible scene. They think it was caused by, at this moment, they don't know. But I think it was caused by renovation. And I hope that that's the reason, renovation, you know, what's that all about. But it's a terrible sight to behold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: It does appear to be the line of investigation as well. We can see all sorts of firefighters and technical people really trying to assess the damage to the building even on the front of that facade. It looks OK. But they're also having to check it, Rosemary.
The fires are under control but people across France really want to know what's being saved as much as what's being destroyed.
CHURCH: Yes, and of course Parisians still coming to terms with their new reality in the city of Paris. Thank you so much, Max. We'll come back to you in just a moment.
But let's now turn to U.S. politics. And with the release of a redacted version of the Mueller report just days away President Donald trump is going on the offensive.
[03:20:02] Abby Phillip reports once again he's taking aim at the special counsel, the FBI and Hillary Clinton.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump changing his tune on the Mueller investigation, from this just a few weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you think Robert Mueller acted honorably?
TRUMP: Yes, he did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: To now unleashing a series of furious attacks ahead of the reports Thursday release, tweeting "The Mueller report which was written by 18 angry Democrats who also happen to be Trump haters and Clinton supporters should have focused on the people who spied on my 2016 campaign and others who fabricated the whole Russia hoax. And since there was no collusion why was there an investigation in the first place?"
As the president tweets his frustration, his lawyers are updating their rebuttal. Written months ago, anticipating that report will not be redacted for executive privilege.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also downplaying the possibility that the full report could be more critical of the president than the four-page summary released by the attorney general.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think it's going to be damaging to the president because the entire purpose of the investigation was whether or not there was collusion. Mueller was crystal clear on the fact that there was no collusion not just blame the president.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: But he wasn't crystal clear on obstruction.
SANDERS: But they couldn't make a determination which is basically Mueller's way legally of saying we don't -- we can't find anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Meantime, the president is keeping up the drum beat on threats to bust undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities. Even after Department of Homeland Security lawyers deemed that idea illegal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We'll bring them to sanctuary city areas and let that particular area take care of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: And while he targets Democrats in those cities and tries to take the focus off of Mueller, it's a subject he just can't stop tweeting about, even attempting to redirect accusations of collusion and obstruction onto his former political opponent.
Trump claiming, "These were crimes committed by crooked Hillary, the DNC, dirty cops, and others.
The president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN's Dana Bash over the weekend that while the White House counsel's office has not been consulted by the attorney general about any kind of executive privilege redactions, it is possible that Bill Barr could make redactions base on his own best judgment.
Meantime, the president's legal team is preparing to release a short statement first and then a longer statement later once they have a better sense of what is actually in the Mueller report.
Abby Phillip, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: Reuters investigative report on the massacre of 10 Muslim Rohingya men in Myanmar has won a Pulitzer Prize. The two reporters who found the mass grave in Rakhine state and investigated the killings were arrested in December 2017. They were sentenced to seven years in prison for violating Myanmar's Official Secrets Act.
And for more on this Andrew Stevens joins us now from Hong Kong. So, Andrew, this Pulitzer win by these two jailed journalists sends a very clear message to Myanmar. Has that message been received loud and clear?
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a good question, Rosemary. There have been loud and clear messages being sent to Myanmar on the jailing of these two investigative reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo now. Since they were first hailed there's been an appeal, they lost the appeal as well. It's been the U.S. It's been the E.U., it's been the United Nations, it's been European countries, and so one who have all called for their immediate release. And it is all fallen on deaf ears so far.
And there is no indication, Rosemary, that the Myanmar government is going to make any -- any changes to their policy of keeping these two in prison for seven years.
An explosive investigation into the killing of 10 men got these reporters thrown in jail. Now it's won them up a Pulitzer Prize.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo will celebrate twinning one of journalism's most prestigious awards from a cell in Myanmar's most notorious prison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this year we are awarding a second prize in international reporting who expertly exposing the military units and Buddhist villagers responsible for the systematic expulsion and murder of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEVENS: In late 2017, when Myanmar's military was in the midst of a brutal campaign against the Rohingya the two Reuters journalists journeyed to the heart of the violence.
At least 10,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed, the U.N. says women raped and babies burned alive in Myanmar's far west. The government has denied any killings of civilians. More than 700,000 refugees have fled to Bangladesh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[03:24:58] ANTONI SLOKOWSKI, MYANMAR BUREAU CHIEF, REUTERS: This was one of the stories that are seared in your mind and keep you awake at night. Especially for Wa Lone who became almost obsessed with finding out the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEVENS: Their reporting focused on a killing of 10 men. Forced to dig their own grave then brutally stabbed, shot and even beaten to death. It was the type of massacre that was being repeated across Rakhine state where Rohingya Muslims have long been persecuted. Horrors the U.N. thinks may have included genocide.
And for the first time in Myanmar, the reporters were able to produce clear evidence of an atrocity. Evidence that led to a military tribunal and censure for the soldiers found guilty of supervising the brutality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SLOKOWSKI: It was an extraordinary field of investigative journalism. It includes one after another, stories from the people who actually did this. And in some cases, we're actually very proud of what they've done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEVENS: But it wasn't just the soldiers that found themselves in prison. Police arrested a Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in December 2017 and charge them with exposing state secrets. They were later found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison.
As the world celebrates their courageous reporting it's their young families that are most proud. But Kyaw Soe Oo's child is too young to understand where her father is. One day, she'll know her father is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter.
Now, Rosemary, it's also important to note here that Aung San Suu Kyi who's been seen as an icon of democracy who was under house arrest for more than two decades during the military rule in Myanmar, she has also been very conspicuously quiet on this.
She is saying that the appeal which happened earlier this year you have to let the courts decide whether or not they were guilty of breaching this Official Secrets Act.
I think it's probably best summed up for the global opinion by the editor in chief of Reuters, Stephen Adler who said that he was thrilled for the courageous reporting that it had actually been recognized but remained deeply distressed that his two reporters remain behind bars. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Yes, understandably. Thank you so much for that, Andrew Stevens with that report. And we will head back to Paris after a very short break with much more on the fire at Notre Dame, including a look at the cathedral's rich history and importance to the French people. We're back in just a moment.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: We will rebuild, pledges the president of France. That was what he said in relation to the building behind. You could see the famous facade of Notre-Dame. Looks unharmed, but you can see firefighters and engineers scaling the front of it just checking.
Behind that, it is a scene of utter devastation, the roof collapsing, the famous spine collapsing and causing even more damage. It's been devastating for people to come and see, but also great amount of hope here that people were injured apart from firefighter and much have of it had been saved, including many of the relics inside.
Some lost too, of course. Here's Nic Robertson with an assessment with what happened over night.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What two World
Wars and a bloody revolution failed to do has this Monday been horribly wrath upon one of the world's most beautiful and best loved buildings. Paris' fabled Notre-Dame Cathedral has been burned. Its graceful form rendered black and the places barely recognizable. It is a calamity of incalculable proportions. The iconic heart of one of Europe's noblest nation has been pierced.
Gasps rose from the crowd as the taring flames took hold late afternoon. Others sang hymns as the slender spire fire succumbed to the inferno leaning and toppling, everyone touched by the tragedy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's horrific, we had the tower full and it was the worst sound of people screaming.
ROBERTSON: The Catholic Cathedral was stood here for almost 900 years, built in the French gothic style, famed for the flying buttresses that support its walls and the red vault ceiling, a place where emperors came to be crowned and great leaders laid to rest. It has been at the center of French life for more generations than anyone here could remember. A place of prayer, and of praise of solace, a place all others in France have measured from a cultural anchor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's so sad, everyone so sad. People come and realized this happened, we are going to have to wake up tomorrow and just wake up the day and it's gone.
ROBERTSON: More than 400 firefighters fought the blaze late into the night eventually taming its consuming fury.
PRES. EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): What happened tonight at Notre-Dame was a terrible tragedy. On behalf of the whole nation, I want to thank all the firefighters who fought and who are still fighting the flames. Thanks to their bravery, the worst has been avoided.
ROBERTSON: So far, no clear indication from officials about precisely what started the fire. The chief prosecutor however saying, it was an involuntary fire. There was no malicious intent behind it.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Paris, France.
[03:35:12] FOSTER: The construction workers have been spoken to by the Paris prosecutor's office as they look into what started this fire. A lot of concern about many of the artifacts, the priceless artifacts have huge religious significance, were they are safe inside, whether they not, we know that people were going inside amidst the flames to try to rescue these very valuable items.
Jim Bittermann joins us now from another part of Paris. What have you heard about those relics and whether or not they're save, Jim?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, in fact, a fair amount was apparently saved. During the breakout of one -- when the fire was first breaking out, police and firemen both came to the assistance of the workers at the Cathedral and transported a number of objects outside of the Cathedral, the Crown of Thorns, for example, a very venerated relic, that supposedly the crown that Christ worn before shortly before he was crucified was saved, a tunic belonging to Louie the 19th, that was -- Louis the 9th rather, that was saved, and a number of other important objects were saved.
Some things were not saved. Like paintings on the walls could not be removed, some of the very huge -- there were 13 huge Tablos (ph) that were -- had to be left behind. Whether they suffered damage, we really don't know. Although experts are going to the building this morning to see exactly what the state of the damages is.
But -- so some things that can be used -- we saw photos of firemen and policemen taking furniture brand chairs, and candelabra and things like that out. So, there were number of objects that were saved, but the lost is still tremendous, Max.
FOSTER: OK, Jim, thank you. We will bring updates from all the official bodies involved here, many of them involved now, including the church bodies. We will bring you updates from as we get them. One crucial one from the fire service coming in that the fire has fully been extinguished within the building. So, incredible work done by the fire service and now the investigators, Rosemary, can try to get to the bottom of what actually happened here.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, people want some answers here, most definitely. Thank you, Max. We will return very soon as we continue tracking events in Paris. And when we come back, we will look at the long history of this ancient landmark that is the heart of Paris.
[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: We want to update you now on our breaking news in Paris. The fire brigade now says the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire has been extinguished. Crews battled it for nine hours and two policemen and a firefighter were slightly injured.
The brigade also says that the main pieces of artwork inside the Cathedral have been saved. The flames ate away at the buildings iconic spire causing it to collapse. Much of the roof is also been destroyed. But the firefighter's efforts saved the facade and the Cathedrals twin bell towers.
Nicholas Paul leads the Center for Medieval studies at Fordham University and he joins me now, thank you so much for being with us.
NICHOLAS PAUL, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR MEDIEVAL STUDIES, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Thank you for having me.
CHURCH: So, people in France and indeed across the world are shocked, they are saddened by this news that Notre-Dame was ablaze for so many hours. Those flames are now contained and the good news is it was saved from total destruction, but so much has been lost. How difficult do you think it will be to rebuild as the French president is about to do? PAUL: I think it could be very, very challenging. I don't actually
know - since we don't know exactly what has happened inside of the building, it's tough to tell what kind of structure work need to be done to reinforce what is -- what remains, but I think it will be a very, very significant challenge, but one I think that a lot of us hope will be undertaken.
CHURCH: Absolutely. And of course, Notre-Dame took centuries to build. It stand as a remarkable architectural symbol as well as one for religion and culture in France, talk to us about it significance to the people in France and indeed throughout the world.
PAUL: Well, as a cathedral church of the city of Paris, it witnessed to the rise -- first the city and then, the medieval kingdom of France to great prominence and because of the significance of Paris as a cultural intellectual center, it was there for a tremendous developments that happened in the city. It witnessed so much in terms of Paris' history. I think that's one of the reasons why this fire has been felt so keenly and why they're such a feeling of trauma amongst so many people watching it is because of the sensuality of the church to the identity of Paris and to France.
CHURCH: And that is the thing isn't it? It's centuries old and there it stands as an incredible symbol, and yet, in this modern era, so difficult and so isolated to get to so that fire trucks can get it in there and actually put out the flames and they did. Some great work trying to do that, but it was a challenge getting into that area at peak hours as well.
[03:45:05] CHURCH: So, talk to us about that and how difficult it is to save symbols like this.
PAUL: Well, I mean, first of all, just to say -- just to state the obvious, I mean, it's centrality when we saw it's so important, so symbolic, I mean, it's right at the center of the medieval city of Paris. And those medieval town centers are notoriously difficult places to reach and what we think of it is being modern and convenient transportation and the availability of the utilities. So, those were two sides of -- two edges of the same sword, I would say.
On the other hand, in terms of what has been lost in the building, I mean, from what I've heard and obviously we don't exactly know the parts that I think the medieval --- the community of medieval historians and medievalist more generally are -- the most concerned about are the windows, which may have been lost, the great rose windows, which are really monuments of medieval gothic parts. And if those have been lost at, it will be a great tragedy.
CHURCH: Right. And of course they will try to remake them, but it will never be the same. It has to be said. The spire, I understand now, that was built in 19th centuries, so that's a completely different project.
PAUL: That is right and a lot of parts of the building, even the ones that we think of as being the most ancient and the most medieval, a lot of them are actually were the work of restoration projects, primarily in the 19th century. The great architect, Viollet LeDuc (ph), was involved with the restoration of Notre-Dame.
And there was an attempt to amplify the building to protect the building, complete the building and to add on details which emphasizes its medieval nature. So many of those details actually date back to the 19th century, but of course the structure of the building so much of it sculpture and art, its windows all of that was the product of centuries of work by generations of crafts people living in Paris putting it together. So really the product of a communities through time.
CHURCH: Right. And of course, Notre-Dame, it attracts more than 13 million visitors a year, clearly that won't be happening for some time. But no doubt, once it is rebuilt many more people will come to see this incredible symbol. And thankfully the facade was saved and a lot of what your studying, the medieval path has been able to withstand this fire hasn't it?
PAUL: That is right. And we heard today that also some of the treasures of the treasury were also saved. I've heard reports that some of them were saved. That was one of the great fears as well, not just for the fabric of the building itself but also for some of the artworks that it contains. Which is also part of the reason why people come to visit the church.
It's really remarkable how iconic it is and how it's such a destination for visitors to Paris and visitors to France. Even though Paris does not want for other fabulous monuments. But this is one that really occupies to central attention in Paris.
CHURCH: Yes. And thankfully because of the restoration of some of the artworks, some of the statues had already been removed, but this is still a very devastating week for the French and the holy week as well. Thank you for much Nicholas Paul for joining us.
PAUL: That is right.
CHURCH: We do appreciate it.
PAUL: Thank you.
CHURCH: And we will have much more on the Notre Dame fire ahead including the fate of some of the priceless artifacts held inside the historic Cathedral.
FOSTER: -- or the iconic facade of Notre-Dame known all around the world of course is still standing, but behind it lies a scene of devastation. Cyril Vanier looks at the treasures that may have been lost and recovered to.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CYRIL VANIER, CNN SHOW HOST: Notre Dame is 850 years of French
history. We don't know the full extent of the destruction just yet, but we do know that at least some of that history has gone up in smoke. We fear for instance that the great organ may not have been saved. It's the largest organ in France, one of the most famous in the world, it still contains pipes from the middle ages when it was built. It is hard to imagine how that might have survive.
In fact, anything that was made of wood might be gone, that includes parts of the tapestry of sculptures that was inside the Cathedral like these here from the 14th century. Also the rose windows, we don't know what state they are in. If the glass survived the blaze, they are one of the most recognizable architectural features of Notre Dame. It mends rounds stained glass windows over the main portals again, this date back to the 13th century. If you have visited Paris and you had been to Notre Dame, you've probably seen them.
The Cathedral is an architectural treasury no doubt. It's also a contain treasure. Several artifacts sacred in Christianity, this year is believe by Christians to be the crown of thorns abraded circle of chains that according to scripture was placed on the head of Jesus Christ before his crucifixion. And it is shown in a casing here.
Now that fortunately was saved we are told, along with what is believed to be a piece of the cross that Jesus was reportedly crucified on. And nails from that cross. Hopefully French authorities will detail everything that was lost in the Cathedral versus what can be rebuilt.
[03:55:00] But I want to leave you with a couple of pictures to just show you how in mashed Notre-Dame is in the City of Paris. It is not one of the monuments that sits apart -- aside from the city, it is very much a part of the tapestry of Paris. And one last thing, and this is a childhood memory. When you stand in front of Notre-Dame, if you look carefully, let me see. If -- you will see, you look right about here, you'll see a little bronze plaque embedded in stone. Its kilometer zero, meaning that all distances in France were measured from this point at the foot of the Cathedral. And I think that tells you everything you need to know about how Our Lady of Paris, how central it is to city and to the country. Back to you.
FOSTER: Pictures coming from all over the country and from various business sectors to help rebuild this famous building. A sign of how the nation is being unified by this tragedy. More and that coming up on CNN.