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POST TIME: 20 April, 2019 09:18:20 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 20 April, 2019 09:19:56 PM
NOTRE-DAME CATHEDRAL BLAZE
Paintings removed amid lead pollution fears
AFP, Paris

Paintings removed amid lead pollution fears

French art experts headed into the stricken Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris to remove all the remaining paintings on Friday despite warnings from an environmental group that the site could be a toxic health threat.

Officials from the culture ministry were allowed into the 850-year-old landmark to begin retrieving the artworks after fire service officials declared the scorched structure safe enough to go inside.

Firefighters and engineering experts have been working on the fragile landmark since a devastating blaze on Monday night, erecting scaffolding and other wooden supports to stop any of the stonework collapsing.

“The paintings inside the cathedral have been saved from the flames and can now be taken down and transported to safe areas,” France’s Culture Minister Franck Riester told reporters at the scene on Friday.

“All of the paintings will be removed today,” Riester added, saying that he was feeling “very positive” given how most of the priceless canvasses, many of them dating from the 17th or 18th century, had been saved.

As firefighters inspected the top of the fragile southern facade, art experts began carrying out paintings from the cathedral in protective white film and loading them into trucks.

The artworks were taken to the Louvre museum, a centre of restoration, where experts will repair relatively minor damage caused by smoke or water before storing the paintings until they can be returned.

But as the latest phase of salvage work took place, a French charity warned about the possible health impact from the fire.