Tarps to protect Notre Dame, game may help rebuild

Workers install temporary tarpaulins to protect a fragile Notre-Dame Cathedral. Photo: Reuters
Workers install temporary tarpaulins to protect a fragile Notre-Dame Cathedral. Photo: Reuters
Professional mountain climbers helped install synthetic, waterproof tarps over the gutted, exposed exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral, as authorities race to prevent further damage ahead of storms rolling in toward Paris.

The looming bad weather threatens to further damage the 850-year-old cathedral after the roof was destroyed by the April 15 blaze, leaving the church to the mercy of the elements.

Architect-in-chief Philippe Villeneuve said he had to rush the installation of the protective covers that began on Tuesday.

"The climbers, since it will be climbers who will do that, and the scaffolders, are ready," Villeneuve told BFMTV. The beams are there, the tarpaulin on its way .... The highest priority is to protect the cathedral from the rain to come."

Some of Notre Dame's remaining statues were removed by crane before the tarpaulins were hoisted up. Workers in the afternoon began dragging them over to cover vulnerable parts of the structure.

Parts of the cathedral, including its partially-destroyed vaulted ceiling, had already been soaked with water after firefighters desperately fought the blaze for over 12 hours that day.

Notre Dame's vaulted ceiling was also badly damaged after the cathedral's 19th-century spire burnt up and collapsed.

Notre Dame is not expected to reopen to the public for five or six years, according to its rector, although French President Emmanuel Macron is pushing for a quick reconstruction.

So far, investigators think the devastating fire was an accident, possibly linked to the cathedral's renovation work.

GAME MAY HELP REBUILD CATHEDRAL

French video game developer Ubisoft has offered free access to its Assassin's Creed game, which allows players to roam in a meticulously reconstituted Notre-Dame Cathedral during the French revolution.

The fire that devastated the nine-century old monument has raised a wave of enthusiasm in France and abroad, pushing people to donate for its reconstruction and pushing Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame novel up the top-selling book charts.

"We stand in solidarity with our fellow Parisians and everyone around the world moved by the devastation the fire caused," Ubisoft said on its website.

"We want to give everyone the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre-Dame the best way we know how," it added.

During one week, the company will let players download for free the "Unity" version of its game that was released in 2014. The game is set in 1789 Paris and players are part of a secret society of hit men roaming the city chasing victims from a rival group.

The version includes a digital 3-D version of the Notre-Dame cathedral elaborated with real plans, historical documents and pictures of statues and old stones.

The reproduction required 5000 hours of work and included the reconstitution of 140 stained glasses.

Players can climb on the cathedral's arches and gargoyles and admire a reconstitution of Paris's 18th-century skyline.

There is, however, a small anachronism: the cathedral includes its spire, which was added only in the mid-19th century. 

- AP and Reuters 

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