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CONNECT THE WORLD
Authorities Assessing Damage After Devastating Notre Dame Fire; French President Says, We Will Rebuild Notre Dame; Vatican Offers Technical Know-How to Rebuild Notre Dame; French Donors Pledge Over $670M to Rebuild Notre Dame; Demonstrators in Sudan Vow to Keep Protesting Military Rule; Many Important Pieces of Art Survived Blaze; Two Jailed Reporters Win Pulitzer Prize; Witnesses Describe Horror of Watching Cathedral Burn. Aired 11-12p ET
Aired April 16, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Great to have you along with us. Welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Robyn Curnow here at the CNN Center.
The shock of yesterday's fire that devastated the Notre Dame Cathedral is sinking in. But the focus is on what went wrong and what can be saved.
So I want to show you what you're looking at now. This is mangled aftermath. The Cathedral, of course, is an icon not just for Paris but the
world and it, of course, home to priceless treasures.
The city's prosecutor we know says the fire was likely caused by an accident. Pledges are coming in for rebuilding. More than half a billion
dollars have been promised so far. The famous spire, though, and the roof are gone but the facade and the towers are intact, and in fact, many
historic pieces that we're learning -- many historic pieces of art have been spared. We do know it'll take about two days though to secure the
building. There are some vulnerabilities we understand. So experts can then go inside and recover what is left.
Now we know also that cathedrals across France will ring their bells tomorrow to mark the time the fire at Notre Dame started. Melissa Bell was
on the scene while it was burning and she brings us up to date now with these exclusive images. Take a look.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Daybreak in Paris bringing the first images of the badly damaged Notre Dame Cathedral after a
fire ripped through the beloved Catholic landmark stunning the city and the world. CNN obtaining this exclusive look inside the burnt-out Cathedral.
A fire who is running. Embers still falling from the ceiling, rubble scattered across the floor and an apparent hole in the roof.
In one picture, candles still burning from where visitors left them before the fire began. This haunting image showing smoke surrounding the alter,
and its cross illuminated and seemingly intact. Rows of wooden pews and much of the nave appears to have survived. The image a stark contrast to
architectural masterpiece that stood just hours before.
Flames first seen leaping from cathedral's wooden roof just before 7 p.m. local time. Police say the fire began in the attic and spread across the
Cathedral's wooden roof known as the forest because of how many trees it took to build it. The Cathedral's rector tells CNN that the entire roof
structure is destroyed.
The inferno filling the city sky with smoke and ash that rain down on thousands of onlookers who'd gathered on the street, stunned as the blaze
JAMES JANEGA, EYEWITNESS (voice): We turned around and looked back and gasped and saw the spire. We watched as the rest of Paris watched in
silent shock as these flames just grew and spread across the roof.
BELL: Sirens echoing through the silence as the fire engulfed the Cathedral's iconic spire. The 300-foot-tall structure eventually
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard the tower fall. And it was the worst sound and people screamed.
BELL: Nearly 400 firefighters battling the blaze, working to save what was left of the iconic structure and the treasured artifacts inside. Paris's
Mayor tweeting that many of the priceless pieces including the Crown of Thorns and the tunic of St. Louis were recovered successfully.
Firefighters also managing to save Notre Dame's iconic facade and bell tower. Fresh President, Emmanuel Macron emotional as he visited the
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): So I say this very solemnly to you tonight. We will rebuild this Cathedral together.
BELL: With night falling, the crowd turning their heartache into hymns. Some onlookers mourning, others on their knees praying, honoring the
Cathedral, a part of the city's core for close to nine centuries.
CURNOW: Thanks to Melissa Bell reporting there live from Paris. And we will speak to Melissa a little bit later on in the show. She's outside the
Cathedral. But first, I want to bring in CNN's Jim Bittermann from Paris. You also there looking at these horrifying scenes yesterday. But in terms
of the mood today in Paris. Is it shifting somewhat from horror to relief?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it is shifting. I mean, one of the things is that the first explorations of the
damage seem to indicate that there are some things that are still solid within the Cathedral, the walls are still solid. The roof in a number of
areas under the grand nave but also in the transepts are at least sustainable for the time being.
[11:05:03] There's going to be some effort to shore up the walls over the next 48 hours and a number of things, as you mentioned, a number of the
artifacts have been rescued. They've been taken to the Paris City Hall and the Louvre museum. And as a consequence, there's something there to
rebuild on. And I think that's what really changed the mood here last night was the President's message. His vow to rebuild the Cathedral. It
was his destiny. It was our destiny as he put it. So I think it was the kind of thing that acted to change the mood to one of being very negative,
to something more positive looking towards the future -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes, and in just the last hour we heard the interior minister. He was speaking outside the Cathedral giving some updates saying there were
vulnerabilities. I think there are concerns about some of the structures in particular the volt. But also paying tribute to the firefighters and
many people who rushed to try and get some of this artwork out and to put the fire out.
BITTERMANN: Exactly, and in fact it's amazing how much work they did -- were able to do within a couple of hours. That they could go back and
forth from inside the Cathedral. Basically, a lot of the portable items, things like candelabras and large chairs, of course, some of the relics --
the very valuable relics. The Crown of Thorns and the that tunic of Louis and those kinds of things were saved.
Some of the more permanent things they'll have to see. For example which are 13 huge tableaux, paintings on the walls that could not be removed.
And they're going to have to be examined to see how much smoke and water damage there might be and whether they could be restored or not. So it's
not a complete negative picture. And as a consequence I think that has changed the mood here somewhat -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes, I think it seems like it was nine hours from start to end when they managed to get it under control. And we are hearing where a lot
of those relics are. Just talk us through where they're being kept safely and what happens next in terms of restoring them? There's probably a lot
of smoke damage as well.
BITTERMANN: Well exactly. I think there's probably smoke damage to a lot of things, even the things that have been rescued. Because the fire was
pretty well engaged by the time people started going back and forth. They've taken some of them over to the City Hall -- the Paris City Hall ,
which is right across the river -- and also to the Louvre, to the museum which is down the river a little bit but not that far away from Notre Dame.
So in fact there are plenty of places in Paris with all the museums around to store things.
But that's not the biggest problem. I think the biggest problem will be finding out exactly how much of these things can be restored or if there's
any restoration necessary. That would be a real positive. So it is something to see the way that people sprang into action last night. And
you're right, the interior minister paid tribute to the fast action by the police and firemen and helping to save what they could from the Cathedral.
CURNOW: Yes, they certainly did. Jim Bittermann there in Paris. Thanks so much.
Now the damage to such a legendary church has produced an outpouring of words and emotions from across the globe. The former U.S. President,
Barack Obama, tweeted a picture of his family lighting candles inside the Cathedral. Saying, Notre Dame is one of the world's greatest treasures.
Adding, it is in our nature to mourn when we see history lost. But it's also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can be.
Beautiful words there.
Now Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has said, Notre Dame is a historical symbol of France, a priceless treasure of European and world culture, one
of the most important Christian shrines. The tragedy that happened last night in Paris is echoed with pain in the hearts of Russians. Beautiful
words there as well.
Meanwhile the European leaders called on the entire continent to help with rebuilding efforts. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION (through translator): This city has been struck by a tragedy which is not just architectural in
nature but concerns the life of all French people. Being destroyed and engulfed in flames is an external symbol of force. Because there are many
who visit Notre Dame and have done over the ages and this strikes at their very heart. An important part of France has been severely hit and we are
widowed to a degree, all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Widowed to a degree all of us. Wow. So perhaps no leader, one world leader is more personally affected by this than the Pope. Notre Dame
is second only to the Vatican in terms of the most legendary churches in Catholicism. So let's talk about this with CNN's senior Vatican analyst,
John Allen. He's also editor of the "Crux." John, good to speak to you.
[11:10:00] Also the timing of this, during the Holy Week of Easter, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, I mean, across the world hoping that
this is also a story of resurrection.
JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: That's absolutely right, Robyn. And I think in many ways it already is. I mean, from that really dramatic
scene last night of French President Emmanuel Macron standing in front of the still smoldering Cathedral of Notre Dame and vowing that it would be
rebuilt. He was flanked by the Archbishop of Paris, Archbishop Aupetit.
The resolve you see on the faces of ordinary French men and women today, the notes that have been struck both by the French state and the French
church, this absolute conviction that Notre Dame will not be lost. I mean, in many ways, you know around seven p or so yesterday in Paris time. It
looked like this was going to be a tragedy. But today it feels a little bit more like a story of grace and redemption -- Robyn.
CURNOW: The Vatican has offered to help rebuild. Say they have expertise. What do you think is on offer?
ALLEN: Well, I mean, the Vatican does operate one of the most extensive collections of artwork in the world in the Vatican museums. They have been
through restoration projects. A famous museum in Venice, for instance, went up in flames some time ago and the Vatican was involved in bringing it
back to life. They have some of the world's leading experts on the restoration, the upkeep of art. So certainly there is expertise there that
could be drawn upon. President Macron has indicated that he wants the best talent in the world and the Vatican may be able to supply some of it --
CURNOW: Yes, and then when we look at these images -- I wouldn't mind if we could just replay these exclusive images that CNN has of the devastation
inside. And I want you, if you don't mind, John, just to talk us through the relics that were saved in this deluge from the ashes essentially,
Phoenix like. We do have some of the most precious relics in the Christian faith that have survived this. And just talk us through them if you don't
ALLEN: Well by far, Robyn, the single most precious relic from a devotional point of view, if not an artistic one, inside the Cathedral of
Notre Dame is the Crown of Thorns that is the thorny crown that Christ is believed to have worn upon the cross. And the tradition has been preserved
through the centuries and it has been in the Cathedral. Of course now it's somewhere else for safekeeping.
Connected to that is also believed that a piece of the true cross is there and one of the nails from the cross. All of which we are given to believe
have been preserved. From a more artistic point of view, probably the single most arresting thing inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame is that
glorious rose window on the north side. Considered to be the pinnacle of medieval stained-glass art. Miraculously or providentially -- if you're
inclined to a faith point of view -- that stained window apparently has not suffered any kind of serious damage.
Now, there are, of course, other images there that are affixed to walls that are permanently attached that could not be easily removed in the rush
to get things out last night. Surveying the extent of which those items are damaged, whether restoration is even possible, that's going to take
The other thing worth noting, Robyn, this is not a relic exactly. But from a Catholic devotional point of view it's also important to note that the
consecrated hosts that were inside the Cathedral last night, the Catholics believe to be the real presence, the body of Jesus Christ. They were also
saved and taken to a safe location. Certainly had Catholics awoken this morning to find out that not only had the Cathedral burned, but that
consecrated hosts the defiled. That would have produced a kind of heart sickness. Especially in the context of Holy Week. That really is very
hard to describe.
CURNOW: John Allen thanks for your expertise and your perspective there from Rome. Appreciate it. Thanks so much, John.
French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed, as we know, to rebuild this Cathedral and says he will launch a national fundraiser. And we already
know that pledges are pouring in from some of the richest people and companies in France. So let's talk through who has pledged what. Leaders
from the fashion world, the energy industry, the cosmetic giant, L'Oreal, have all announced huge donations. CNN has confirmed close to $700 million
in donations so far. That is our total.
[11:15:00] So joining me now in Paris is Robert Leblanc. He's the president of the Avenir du Patrimoine Fondation. One of their primary aims
is to give Parisian churches the splendor they deserve. You're there on site. Your thoughts as you come to terms with what happened in the last 48
ROBERT LEBLANC, PRESIDENT, AVENIR DU PATRIMOINE FONDATION: Well it was a real nightmare yesterday. What happened was incredible and we were all
very, very sad. Today it's a kind of miracle because so many energies, so many people waiting to help us to rebuild what has been destroyed and to
restore everything. It's very warm to see all these people doing all they can. So some very wealthy people and varying amounts, very high donations.
But we have also a lot of funds coming from a lot of people.
CURNOW: How are you going to coordinate all of these donations, all of this goodwill in terms of focusing what needs to be done first? How
difficult is the beginning of this process going to be?
LEBLANC: Well far, but it's not so difficult. Because we are only a fundraiser. I mean, the Cathedral is owned by the French state so they
have, through the ministries, to manage the process of restoring the Cathedral. So it will be a long process. Because they will need some
studies to know exactly has to be rebuilt, what has to be restored and so it will be a long process. First, in studies and then in the work by
During this time we raise money and we will bring this money to the state so they will use it. We don't use directly the money. That we bring 100
percent of the what we collect to the state to help them to do whatever they have to do in the coming years. Because the process will be very
long. I'm sure that it will need many years before we have Notre Dame as it was before this fire.
CURNOW: You are dedicated to giving Parisian churches the splendor they deserve. What is it about Notre Dame that has struck such a momentous
feeling of despair in people's hearts when they watch this take place? Why is there a universal sense of outrage and horror when they see these
images? I mean, why does it mean so much?
LEBLANC: Well I think Notre Dame de Paris is something very special. I mean, there is a long history. I mean, there are other cathedrals in the
world sure, but Paris is Paris. And I think we knew that before what happened yesterday when we started Friends of Notre Dame in the U.S., we
knew that for a lot of people in the world and especially in the U.S., Notre Dame de Paris is something very special.
So there is a history. What the French kingdom of the past was in a special position. You know, we always said, the first daughter of the
Church. France was the first daughter of the Church. Our kings of the past played a great roll in Christian world. So I think for all these
reasons in the past we can explain that today is still something very special for everybody in the world. And we get very strong messages from
all over the world as well. It's very warm for our hearts.
CURNOW: CNN has sort of totaled that it's nearly some $700 million that has been promised to help with the rebuild. In terms of numbers, is that
what you understand is coming? Can you give us an update on what you know in terms of donations and pledges? And also, if you had to choose on what
the money was spent on first, what would you focus on?
LEBLANC: Well first the figures are right with which we know today. Coming from big, big donators in France. And we know that a lot of other
ones are coming from all over the world, from the U.S. where we have already started fundraising two years ago. And from small donations also
coming from different places. I really can really confirm the figures you got, 700 million today. Then the process, once again, we will not choose
CURNOW: I know you won't .
LEBLANC: The state has the --
CURNOW: But from someone who loves the Cathedral, I know you have no choice in how the state focuses on it. But for you what was the most
special part that was lost and what would you like to focus on? Just from a personal point of view.
LEBLANC: Well I think it's not a question of love. Because what we would love is to have the Cathedral again as it was before the fire. I think the
first step is probably to rebuild the roof because now you have two big holes in the roof and, of course, the figures that there will not be a
third one during the night. It seems that nobody is stable now but not yet sure 100 percent.
[11:20:00] So two big holes in the roof. So I think really the first step to protect anything inside. Then we will see all the windows are great and
hopefully most of them are not destroyed. Maybe they will have to be certainly cleaned but maybe restored. But that can come later on. I think
really the most urgent thing is to rebuild the roof to protect everything.
CURNOW: OK, Robert Leblanc, thank you very much for joining us there on the site that is still becoming a very much focal point in Paris. But
perhaps in a good way as you all looked to restore this magnificent lady. Thank you very much, sir.
Still to come, much more on this story. We want to speak to a stone mason, an expert who has renovated other buildings in France. And we'll ask what
is it like and what will it take to rebuild Notre Dame? That's going to be an important conversation.
And then it's not just pressure from protesters. Sudan's currently military leaders are now facing international demand to step down and soon.
We have a live report from Khartoum. That story as well. It's an important one. It's taking place in Sudan right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCK RIESTER, FRENCH CULTURE MINISTER (through translator): There are three important large holes with the collapse that took place of the spire
yesterday, as well as the transept. And at the end of the night, the transept of the vaults of the northern transept. And so, we are very
mobilized together with the firefighters of Paris to try and to find the best possible measures to protect the areas that are threatened. Including
the norther transept and part of the southern belfry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Ok, that was the French Culture Minister talking about the structural integrity of Notre Dame and efforts to preserve the precious
architecture of the building. Of course, will have much more on this tragic fire and the efforts to rebuild coming up a little bit later on in
But now another big story we're following this hour. The growing demands for civilian rule in Sudan. Protesters as you can see here are in high
spirits as they keep up their sit-in outside army headquarters in Khartoum. And now they have backing from the African Union.
[11:25:00] The organization of 55 states is threatening to revoke Sudan's membership if the military there doesn't establish civilian rule within 15
days. Our Nima Elbagir reports now from Khartoum.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to downtown Khartoum. It may look like things are clearing up here and people are
going home. But actually, what's happening is that they're swapping shifts because the protesters here still will not leave this space unoccupied.
They're saying we're the generation that brought down al-Bashir and we're not going to be fooled. This is Baha. Baha was imprisoned three times.
He was tortured. He was abused. And he's not the only one. Most of the young men sitting here have been in prison.
How many here were detained during the demonstrations? Everyone. Can you hear that? We've been hearing sporadic gunfire for most of the night. It
doesn't sound very far away. We spoke to some of the army officers when we were coming in and they were saying that they have been exchanging fire
with some remnants of the former regime national intelligence services.
ELBAGIR (translated text): What's that? What's that over there?
ELBAGIR: We're trying to get up high to show you exactly how many people are here. It's completely extraordinary.
CURNOW: That was our senior international correspondent, Nima Elbagir, reporting there from Khartoum. Extraordinary scenes on the streets there.
Many people in many countries take for granted the right to play music late at night but not in Sudan. For years it required a permit. Yes, a permit.
And that's one reason the protests we're seeing now are so joyful as you heard there. With the singing and the dancing, even DJs, as people
exercise their newfound freedoms by just listening to music.
So you can read much more about the importance of music in these protests. That's at CNN.com.
And coming up, Notre Dame of course has been a fixture on the Paris skyline for centuries and centuries. But there's a world of treasures inside the
building. We'll look at how some of these priceless pieces of work were saved. And using what was saved to rebuild. We'll speak to a master
restorer on what and how long -- that's the key -- how long it could take.
[11:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CURNOW: Heartbreaking, isn't it? That moment there as the spire of the Notre Dame Cathedral came crashing down amid that horrific fire. You could
hear people's reactions. Now the blaze was finally extinguished this morning after burning for nine hours in a building that stood for more than
eight centuries. Authorities say there's no sign -- for now at least -- that the fire is anything other than accidental. But they have to move
slowly because of potential structural damage that's not easy to see.
And despite their grief today, Paris and the world are giving thanks for what's not been lost. Much of the beloved Cathedral's interior is still
intact and its most precious relics and artworks have been saved. And business leaders we know are pledging hundreds of millions of dollars for
reconstruction. Well Notre Dame is far more than just a place of worship. For centuries the Cathedral has been a symbol of France and its culture and
the home of countless Christian artifacts. Cyril Vanier now looks at some of the treasures that have been lost in the fire but also crucially some of
those that have survived. Here Cyril.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: 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. And 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 contained pipes from the middle ages when it was built. It's hard to
imagine how that might have survived.
In fact, anything that's made of wood might be gone. That includes parts of the tapestry of cultures that was inside the Cathedral. Like these here
from the 14th century. Also the rose windows, we don't know what state they're in, if the glass survived the blaze. There one of the most
recognizable architectural features of Notre Dame, immense round stained- glass windows over the main portals. Again, these date back to the 13th century. If you have visited Paris and you have been to Notre Dame, you've
probably seen them.
The Cathedral is an architectural treasure, no doubt. It also contained treasures. Several artifacts sacred in Christianity. This here is
believed by Christians to be the Crown of Thorns, a braided circle of canes that according to Scripture, was placed on the head of Jesus Christ before
his crucifixion. And it's 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. But I want to leave you with a
couple of pictures to just show you how the enmeshed 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 -- you will see --
look right about here -- you'll see a little bronze plaque embedded in the stone. It's kilometer zero, meaning that all distances in France are
measures from this point at the foot of the Cathedral. I think that tells you everything you need to know about how Our Lady of Paris, how central it
is to the city and to the country. Back to you.
CURNOW: Cyril, thanks so much for that.
Well I want to go straight to the Cathedral. Melissa is standing by. She's live there.
[11:35:00] You're not far from that little spot, that little plaque that is the essence of all the beginnings of distance that Cyril was talking about.
I want you to take us through what it took to bring that fire under control. Because we're getting a whole lot of new details on what the
firefighters did and how successful in many ways they were.
BELL: That's right, Robyn. We now understand that there were in fact two moments yesterday evening when the fire alarm went off. First of all at
6:20 p.m. our local. But we're coming up here in Paris that 24-hour mark in just over an hour. That was the first fire alarm, the one that allowed
everyone in the building to be evacuated and no doubt helped to ensure that there were no human casualties beyond of course the wounding of the
firefighter later on in the evening.
Then a second fire alarm after no fire was detected at all after that 6:20 one at 6:43. It was at that point that the fire was detected and fire
crews tried to make their way to the building. Now that was no mean feat. Because it was of course rush hour and there are at this time of day and at
this time of year in particular, throngs of tourists and ordinary Parisians milling around this particular part of the historic center of Paris.
Rush hour as well, with cars all along the banks of the Seine. And a great deal of difficulty for the fire crews just to get their trucks here. And
then of course, there were the difficulties inherent in the fire itself. The fact that there was all of this combustible fuel, all of those beams,
some of them going back to the 12th-century -- 12th-century oaks. It's difficult even to get your head around it. At the very top of the
structure holding it together that really sustained the fire, fed it and allowed it to get more and more intense over the course of the evening.
Then there was a problem of the height. Just look at the height of the structure behind me. Notre Dame is an extremely tall building. And with
those very high flames, of course, the difficulty of trying to get any kind of water that would be able put them out, to get above them, to get on top
of them without dropping water from the sky. Because as we've been hearing from France's civil security agency that was simply not an option. It
would have damaged the structure irretrievably. And it was not a risk that they were willing to take.
So there is also really this evening a sense of relief that the damage was not more extensive than it was given the intensity of the fire. Given how
quickly it spread and given the difficulties that the fire crews had in bringing it under control. And there in mind that it raged for nine hours.
So it is remarkable that so much of Notre Dame is intact. And of course, for that we should be thankful.
And it is what we've been hearing from the great crowds that really have not diminished over the course of the day. It's been remarkable to see how
many people, ordinary Parisians and tourists alike, say to us we just had to come and see it. It started early this morning. It's going on this
evening. And as a measure of that emotion which remains extremely strong here in France, as we come up to that 24-hour mark, Robyn, the bells of the
Cathedrals across the country are going to be ringing out at 6:50 local time. So in just over an hour to mark the moment when that fire caught.
CURNOW: OK, and Melissa Bell there right outside the Cathedral. Thanks so much for your reporting. Appreciate it.
More now on some of those items that made it out of the fire. Let's talk about that. Many of them are being stored actually at a hotel. It looks
like a U-Haul just dragged them in there. Doesn't it? The French culture minister says several large paintings will also be taken out of the
Cathedral in a few more days and later on this week. He says they survived the flames but suffered damage from fumes and will have to be de-
Also in a stroke of luck just last week 16 copper statures were actually removed from around this fire and sent to the southwest of France for
restoration. That spire as you know was destroyed in the blaze.
So the good news is that not all was lost in the blaze at Notre Dame. But renovations could take years and years and cost hundreds of millions of
dollars. And as the smoke clears and the damage assessments began, CNN has been getting this exclusive video. You've seen it, but just look at it
again, here you inside Notre Dame after the fire. Here you can see candles in the nave still lit. Apparently by people who had visited there as the
fire even raged in the early stages.
Now look at this before and after image. It really gives you an idea of the extent of smoke damage through this altar cross that survived. A
beautiful image of light coming through in that after picture.
Let's bring in world renowned master stone mason, Frank Helmholz, the owner of Cornerstone. He spent his career restoring German and French castles
and churches and manors. He joins us now by via Skype from Armenia. Great to have you on the show. From your perspective as a master stonemason,
what is the first thing that needs to be done?
FRANK HELMHOLZ, FOUNDER AND OWNER OF CORNERSTONE (via Skype): Oh the very first thing I would think is to assess the damage, of course, to go inside
[11:40:00] I'm sure there are very unstable parts because there are these holes in the vaulted ceilings that the edges of which are possibly quite
unstable. Stones could still fall at any time. But one has to get closer to these places, so after initial cleaning scaffolding has to be erected.
And one has to get up there and really examine what this damage and what is salvageable, some of the stones themselves. Stones that are exposed to
intense feet can lose their integrity themselves. Limestone (INAUDIBLE) with the heat and it can lose its integrity if it is hot and if it's hot
enough and long enough the heat. So all this needs to be looked at right away.
CURNOW: So the limestone, the integrity of the limestone, of course, much of the wood, particularly the roof is just gone. We know from French
authorities that they are concerned about vulnerabilities at the level of the vault, the ceiling and the northern transepts. What would be the
biggest concern to you then knowing that?
HELMHOLZ: Well a crossed ribbed vaulted ceiling like in Notre Dame is a very ingenious architectural engineering feat but it is very
interconnected. And yet it is built in sections. Between each four columns you have one of these sections. And so the holes that are apparent
in the photos that I've seen are going -- addressing one section in particular or another section(INAUDIBLE). The sections that are undamaged
seem relatively stable. So that's a good thing. The sections that have holes in them, they are unstable. They need to really be shored up as soon
as possible. And the other concern of course is there is no more roof. So any kind of heavy rains and storms of that kind would further damage and
deteriorate the situation. So I think another aspect has to be a temporary roof of some kind. (INAUDIBLE) cannot build a permanent timber roof on
this kind of somewhat unstable and clear inspection
CURNOW: In terms of other restoration projects that you know of, that you've worked on, where does this fit? Is this going to be one of the most
challenging, one of the most difficult in living memory? Or do you think that once the right amount of people, the experts are involved, that this
should just be a restoration of a larger building but not that complicated. Just give me some sense of the timing and the complication here.
HELMHOLZ: Well it is very complicated. It is very complex. And I think the only memory we would have is results of the last two World Wars. There
was extensive damage during those wars to some of the Cathedrals, some of the churches, not Notre Dame luckily. But that is the last time we had
such serious damage in front us that I'm aware of. And so this is larger than most of what we face as stone masons. Luckily in all the three
countries the Gothic mostly our let's say France, Germany and England.
Of course, there is a very good educational system to keep stone masons to raise them, to educate them. And so we do have this very alive carpenters
that are very skilled but can do the wood work that's necessary. So the expertise exists. I think it really is much more a matter of the will and
the finances of the government, of the world really because this is a world monument that is the heart of France, of course. But it really is also a
world monument. And I think the world will come together and do whatever they have to do to bring it back to what it is.
CURNOW: Yes, and it might take generations as well. Master stonemason, Frank Helmholz, really appreciate you joining us, giving us your expertise.
Thanks so much.
HELMHOLZ: You're welcome.
CURNOW: Thank you.
So this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, exposing atrocities in Myanmar to the world. Two journalists are behind bars and they're honored for their
courage and investigative work. Will have that story next.
[11:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CURNOW: Well now to journalism. One of journalism's top prizes, a Pulitzer Prize has been awarded to two "Reuters" reporters. And they been
in jail for more than a year in Myanmar. The pair won the Pulitzer for international reporting for their courage in exposing a massacre of
Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. They were imprisoned then for their work. A move widely criticized as an attempt by Myanmar's government to silence the
press. Well Andrew Stevens has their report.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The crime these two journalists were charged with was exposing state secrets as they uncovered a shocking story
of a mass killing in Myanmar. Now the case was seen as a test of the progress that Myanmar has been making towards democracy. Remember, this is
a country where a former democracy icon, Ang San Suu Kyi, is now the de facto leader. But despite the renewed international attention there's no
sign of the government changing course.
(voice-over): An explosive investigation into the killing of ten men got these reporters thrown in jail. Now it's won them a Pulitzer Prize. Wa
Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo will celebrate winning one of journalism's most prestigious awards from a sale in Myanmar's most notorious prison.
DANA CANEDY, PULITZER ADMINISTRATOR: And this year we are awarding a second prize in international reporting for expertly exposing the military
units and Buddhist villagers responsible for the systemic expulsion and murder of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.
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.
Claims the government denies. More than 700,000 refugees have fled to Bangladesh.
ANTONI SLODKOWSKI, REUTERS MYANMAR BUREAU CHIEF: This is one of these 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.
STEVENS: Their reporting focused on a killing of ten men forced to dig their own grave, then brutality stabbed, shot and 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 atrocities. Evidence that led to
a military tribunal and censure for the soldiers found guilty of supervising the brutality.
SLODKOWSKI: It was an extraordinary feat of investigative journalism. It includes one after another, stories from the people who actually did this,
and in some cases were actually very proud of what they've done.
STEVENS: But it wasn't just the soldiers that found himself in prison. Police arrested Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in December 2017 and charged them
with exposing state secrets. They were later found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison.
[11:50:00] 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.
(on camera): Heartbreaking for the families of those two reporters. As the editor in chief of Reuters put it, he's thrilled that the two have been
recognized for their courageous reporting but he remains deeply distressed that they're still behind bars.
Andrew Stevens, CNN Hong Kong.
CURNOW: Thanks, Andrew, for that.
Coming up, the burning of Notre Dame as told by the people who witnessed the flames close up. Stay with us for that.
CURNOW: I'm Robyn Curnow. You're watching CNN. There's more of our continued coverage of the terrible, terrible fire at Notre Dame. And it
brings us now to the witnesses. The thousands of people -- you might have been one of them -- on the streets of Paris last night who could only stand
and watch an iconic church, all that history just burn. Well hear in their own words as how some of them experienced that tragedy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't feel that I could be so emotional. Really, it's unbelievable. And you know, for me and for us, the French it's the
symbol of Paris. You know, I can't think of the skyline of Paris without a spire of Notre Dame. You know it just collapsed. It's 1,000 years of my
history, of our national identity which is burning. You know, it's awful. I'm sorry to be so emotional but you know there are not words to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn't having a regular coffee with my colleague from Poland who visits me this morning. So we smell that something was burning
and we thought something was going wrong in the kitchen in the restaurant. But then the bartender told us that apparently that Notre Dame was on fire.
For us, it was very unreal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower with my friend Paige. And as we were going up, we saw lots of smoke bellowing out
from the middle of the city. I looked over and we heard people talking about Notre Dame. And so, we were getting multiple texts from friends and
family just asking about what was going on. If we were safe and just trying to figure out what was happening. We then found out about the fire
there and I then took some photos. We were just like very confused because earlier that day we actually had gone to Notre Dame and were sitting in
front of it and everything was completely fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's amazing shame. Everybody is crying. It's very sad because Notre Dame de Paris is the symbol of Paris and the symbol of
[11:55:00] This church for everybody is the symbol of freedom, the symbol of fraternity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought in the beginning from the buildings behind, but after when I realized it's Notre Dame Cathedral, you can see. It here
it was terrifying to know. It was a crazy, crazy moment because for us it's a very important building, very important monument so it's very
CURNOW: Heartbreaking indeed. And we want to leave you now with two drawings, cartoons that sum up what many are feeling about this fire. So
take a look at this one. An artist from Ecuador sketched the hunchback of Notre Dame from the Disney film hugging the building he called home. She
said her drawing is a simple message, the world is embracing Notre Dame right now. And award-winning political cartoonist, Marshall Ramsey, draws
an Easter service in front of the burned-out Notre Dame with the priest saying, today's holy week sermon is about resurrection. And indeed it is.
Well I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks so much for joining us. This has been CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching.