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tv   BBC World News America  PBS  April 15, 2019 2:30pm-3:00pm PDT

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[applause] >> and now, "bbc world news." jane: this is "bbc world news reporting from washington, i am jane o'brien. a tragedy of historic asoportions. the world watcheotre dame burns. its famous spire collapses in the blvee. these are ictures of the scene where firefighters are working well into the night to control the blaze. officials now say the iconic towers will survive. thousands have been standing, many in silence, others in s tears,is symbol of paris went up in flames. >> the most beautiful monumentin paris has been burning for an hour.
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it is just hideo. jane: welcome to this special editn of "world news america all eyes this evening on central paris. french officials say they will be able to save the bell towers of notre dame, but two thirds of the roof has been dtroyed. earlier they thought the cathedral itself could be lost. it is a glimmer of optimism on an otherwise heart-wrenching evening. millions watched on as the fire burst forth in the world-famous edral, tapping the world spire and blackening the skylht. lucy williamson on how it unfolded. lucy: it was, said the president, a part of france that burnedrt today, a that stood
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for 800 years through war, revolution, and religious engulfed within an hour by flames. towers, begins for resident -- ancient towers, beacons for residents and tourists, crumbling into the blaze. its current guardian watched through tears. >> this is a national disaster. i'm verypset. this cathedral is 850 years old. see the building fall t pieces, the spire falling down as we were renovating it, all i can dos pray. lucy: 400 fifighters circled the cathedral to tackle the blaze. the crane stretching to reach the soaring roof. a complicated and fragile operation. simply dousing the medieval structure with water was not anp f --o, press two rescue experts said, because the building could collapse. to tackl building, firefighters had to
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climb up the towers. nothing else could reach. the flames are beginning to subside nobe the damage inning to reveal itself. the destruction of this medieval symbol of paris has left the city under a pall of shock and oke. people packed into the streets aroundarely spoke. just watched. president macron, arriving at the cathedral with france's prime minister, had or to uptr either, his facne in disbelief, as in prayer. those who found words for their impressions one after the otherl said the same. >> this is awful. it is terribly sad. it is the s uncontrollable. i have been here for one hour and there is nothing to do. adcy: the deputy mayor of paris confirmed the firetarted on the roof and quickly spread. the cause isn't clear. police have begun an vestigation. some have questioned whether
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exteive renovation work currently underway here might've sparked th massive blaze. the task now is to assess the destruction inde the building. its woodwork dat cg from the 13tury. its statues destroyed once before by revolutionaries two centuries ago. many things are said to be irreplaceable -- great art, cultural heritage, symbols of protection and hope.ds what whould we use when it is all of these? lucy williamson, bbc news, paris. parisan amerin was in when the fire broke out today and he spoke to me by the phone. what did youee? >> we were about two blocks away when the smoke started to billow out. at first we did not know how serious it was going to be because it aeared to be like chimney smoke, and then it quickly began to intensify within about 20 minutes.
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we were there around closing time. the last tour wa at 6:45, and we noticed the smoke coming out around 6:55. 20 minutes later it really got stronger, it turned green, it turned orange, and finally, dark black smoke. it was very difficult to breathe initially. stingysrted to get and our noses srted to singe a little bit, so we decided to move further away. jane: it sounds pretty frightening. were people paniheed? what wasood? dave: at first there was confusn. we did not know where it was coming from initially. we couldn't tell if it was coming from hind the building, the cathedral itself, but we decided very quickly once the flames picked up 25 minutes later, we knew that it w coming directly from the very top spire. it wasn't really panic, it was
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mostly like a somber sadness. thpeople were ing on the bridge. r you can see the riine, there were areas where people were lining up to get picturesh and people wms around each other and just standing there emtching. as one of your gen said earlier, spectators, there wasn't much you can do but just to watch. jane: what are people saying? was there any talk about what may have caused it? dave: no, not really. initiall again, as it first started we were about a block away at that point when it first started. i don't think anyone thought it was anything ominous, that it was going to be as serious as it turned out to be. there were just murmurs and chatter among tourists and parisians alike saying, what is going on? there was a little bit of confusion, and then emergency vehicles started to arrive. there was policemen on motorcycles and cars, and later
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larger vehicles. i guess if there is any good news besides the fact that it looks like they will be able to save part of this, hopefully no one was hurt in the process. jane: are you getting a sense of what this means to parisians? its difficult to digest fr over here. you are right in the middle of it. what are pple thinking now? >> yeah, well, i can say, as an american, we are over here on vacation and there are several tourist sites we have seen. we appreciate our ameroran hi but the historical significance and cultural heritage piece of this, whethero are a catholic or christian or otherwise, is pretty significant. we didn't really talk with many people as they passed by, but it ious in the silence, and there was an ominous silence as we were watching it together, that we are all witnessing something we will not forget.
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jane: president macron has been speaking and paying tribute to firefighrs who have been tackling the blaze, and heaid that the worst has been avoided. a glimmer of hope coming out of paris tonight. he said that the building will stand. that does not take into account the destruction to the historic interior. ort time ago i spoke to phil ip crowther, a journalist with france 24 and the associated press. the structure be saved. that appears to be what the interior ministry of france is from those two particular towers from the front of them to digital, that is good news. there is a reason why everybody is watching this around the world right now, because notre dame cathedral, even iyou have
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not visited, you might feel like you have through literature and movies, through simply photos of it. everybody has seen it. those who have visited brought back something special from it. it is difficult to decide who are the first people we should think about now. enmaybe hose who built it centuries ago maybe those who ,me managed to w save it through two world wars. maybe those parisians who walk past it every day and don't eveb look at ause it is so normal to them. and those who went to worship inside the cathedral, many ofde whom are outf it right now at this late hour in paris. that leads us to believe there might be something positive to come out of this. there is a sense of unity in paris. maybe even in france as a whole. jane: extraordary how quickly -- how much you take these landmarks for granted until something like
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this happens. knowing the area as you dowhy was it so difficult for firefighters to get to it? president trump suggested using planes with water cannons. why couldn't that happen yet go -- why couldn't thn? hap philip: that might have seemed like a logical thing to say at the time, but this is a whole different story civil defense authority in france felt like it had to come out with a tweet written in english, the only one they wrote this whole evening in english, in which they described why that was simply not realistic, why no planes could flight above notre -- fly above notre dame cathedral and simply dumped tons of water on top of the spire. hese would have been tons of water and they woue destroyed this wooden structure in the end. it was simply too risk the french authorities. the president was wrong here. it seemed to be another one of his instinctive tweets. that is one of the reasons why it was not possible, simply the weight of this water there are planes like these in france, but they are too far
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away. even if this hada bee realistic possibility, it would have been too difficult to do. there have been people, from friends i've been speaking to,ne eyewes on the ground who were looking up at these towers and thinking, why aren't wewh doing moree are the planes, where all the helicopters. we have a pretty good explanation from the french authorities why tha't possible. jane: notre dame sits in the very center of paris. its location is far more than just geography for centuries it has been in the middle of paris like in the story of france itself. fergal keane reports on the historic and cultural significance of notre dame. fergal:n paris, the most desolate of skies. wing intouinil
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the air. fire crews from across paris have come here to save whatever they possibly can. the striki thing standing crowd is just t silence, the quiet of people onstunned by the destrucf not just a great french cultural artifact, but one that belonged to the world. notre-dame offered a vision of france that seemed eternal. even as the age of kings and emperors and powerful cardinad. had long pas it was built more than 800 years ago, whe right.ruled by divine grant and great cathedrals of stone were decided to reach for the sublime. >> this is absolutely a cult aal disaster f of us, not just the french, but european significance. harris had been the hot cauldron -- paris had been the hot cauldron of topic architecture -- gothic architecture from th c 11th and 12tturies.
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it influenced all our subsequent cathedrals. fergal: notre dame survived britain's devastating wars of religion. it was an age of hubris. napoleon was crowned emperor by the pope. at the end of world war ii, the bell of notre-dame ranin the hour of liberation. its gloriesre a source of pride for the people of the city. >> i speak tdiyour english ce to share my immense sorrow, my immense pain, in front of this catastthat has befallen notre-dame. i have lived here for more than 30 years. my three children we baptized here. what the germans did not destroy was ruined by stupid fire. fergal: the fear of a devastating fire was always present. 1930's. the mid- but it was the renovation in the modern age that prove catastrophic. atthese s were moved for protection just last week.
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cityht, paris feels like a that is mourning the loss of an essential part of itself. fergal keane, bbc news, paris. an art wr joined by iter based in paris. it is so much history here, as we have just been hearing. what is your biggest concern? what has been lost? my biggest concern is full-tim of the building itself. hasear the newshat art been saved is extremely reassuring. jane: give me a sense of the content. what is inside the building that is sota imp? >> inside the building itself you have priceless the crown of thorns, a piece of the true cross, a nail crucifixion. those things as far as we know have been said.
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in addition to what is stored inside the church, it is how it is stored itself. vlting3th-century themes inside italy. these windows with 13-century glass inside of them. these are the things that have been lost. those are the things we are not going to get back. jane: is there anything like this elsewhere, or is notre-dame one-of-a-kind? kelly: notre-dame i believe is one-of-a-kind. it has been a symbolf paris since it was erected in the 13th century. it is an important site for faith,at the catholic famous for its size,an history, of course those relics. but it is important to all people and all of frce. it is .0 where ero where everything
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in the country is measured. it is assembleceof the resilihat is so inherent to paris. it survived riots, the french revolution, two fold was. to see this in this state in the 21st century is very disheartening. jane: there has been a lack of funding over the years for historical renovation. when something like this happens,ow does it make you think of the way notreha dam been treated in the past? kelly: that has been a big issue and even recently this year it has been in the news in paris quite a lot. they finally get enough funds to do restorations, and then something like this happens. you wonder why there wen't different types of systems in place for something like this to happen. it's due to thlack of funding. jane: i.s.s t-- is there a concern that other historical places in paris might be looking more closely at general security and emergency response?
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kelly: i would think so. for something like this to happen, it would be unthkable. for this to happen at the number one most visitedite in the city, you have to wonder about the other buildings and monuments. jane: thank you very much indeed for joining me. with meon on the from new york is a professor of art history at columbia university and never of the american -- member of the american friends of notre dame in paris with thank you for joining me. first of all, the good news is they think they can save the building. dpresident macron s that in the last three minutes. how is that façade able to withstand what appears to be a ferocious blaze? and is a demonstration in a sense that we got back sysm works from and the point of the gothic system was to protect the building through masonry, stone canopies, and in the case of notre dame 100 feet above the
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pavement. a through force tople can blaze and fall of the vaults. it didn't altogether work. i don't have the final details. i understand that the vaults were penetrated and the fire did get inside. what he could've been a lot worse but for the masonry. --s. masonry vau jane: the spire itself, that was not that old. a lot of the cathedral was relatively modern if you think of 200 years a being relatively modern. stephen: yes, there was a massive restoration that too led byn the 19th centurye most famous of all french restorer foras the one responsible reconstructing the central people, the spire, which was entirely wooded. he finished the work by placing
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an ima of the apostles anking the spire. most tragic and a way, most interesting was he represented himself as the doubting thomas. thomas, of course, is the patron saint of governors and masons. he turned away from paris because he did not the work in paris like a gothic. a 250-60-- 1850-60 construction. jane: how likely is it that the cathedral can be rebuilt to an approximation of wha provisions are used to seeing? stephe it is quite likely given the funding. the tragedy is that resources are stretched thin just to rebuild it as it was. friends of nre dame of paris haven't been playing an important role in terms of
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trying to help, partic rmth -- have been playing an important role in of trying to help. the french government takes sponsibility for a portion of these massive expenses, but without outside help it is going to be a problem. coming back to the original question, the reason why the building cannot be re-roofed, but of course, the interior furniture meant to be seen. the choir at sumptuous wooden stalls. they would havend blazed, could have done damage to the main piers. jane: in terms of funding, it seemst extraordinary ten you look at the pictures and see the shock of people trying to take this in, that funding would be an issue. pare you going out an appeal as the friends? stephen: member.f every new i've only been -- i am a very new member. i've only been a member for a
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couple of months. but i imagine there will be an immediat friends of notre dame and friends all over the world. there is a massive community of lovers of this building and of all caps the buildings. -- all gothic buildings. jane: thank you very much forck that and good for any fundraising appeal. stephen: thank you very much for . jane: a jesuit priest turned me earlier from new york. -- joined me earlier from new york. oftr course dame is a monumental tourist attraction fullsi of explain itificance as a holy place, as a church. >> it is the heart of the church in france. not only an icon of the french church but catholicism and christianity throughout europe. othethan st. peter's basilica in vatican city, there is no place that is as closely seen as a symbol of the european church. jane: what must christians around the world be thinking right now?
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tremendousin: sadness. the possible loss of irreplaceable religious symbol. paris from ourarr lady of paris and it is a tremendous artistic loss. devast jane: and of course this is olhappening duringweek. what extra residence does that add? father martin: a sense of great sadness and loss. weemember the death and resurrection of jesus, but it also comes at a time of crisis in the church and political crisis in france. there is this tripleolesonance withweek, the crisis in the church, and polital crises in france. jane: what spiritual message n holy week offered -- those things you mentioned, the political crisis in the church -- what can christia take as any symbol of hope from this? father martin: the main some
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help from holy week is the resurrection, and even in the darkest moments there is a ochannew life. and the always hope, resurrection and message is that nothing is trulyib impo with god and suffering is never the last rd. jane: there are two relics in notre dame, the fragment of the true cross and the crown of thorns. how significant are they? father mtin: well, they are traditional relics, and we don't know how far back they go. the church itself is a relic. the faith of people for centuries. you know, the church in a sense is just as holy as any of the relics in the church itself. ne: the archbishop of paris is calling on christians around the world to show solidarity, suggesting that bells be rung invite people to prior. how important is tha. father martin: prapoyer is
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ant in terms of uniting ourselves with one another and begging god for of need. our hour i have seen videos of people kneeling ifrance and praying the hail mary, ave maria. it is hard to expose how sad this is for catholics and christians worldwide, and prior is theonly -- prayer only thing many people think they can do right now. jane: father martin, thank you for joining me. before we go, let's recap what we know. the french president has visited the site of the fire, sing the worst has been avoided and the building will stand. officials had feared the entire structure uld be lost. they estimate that two thirds of the roof has been destroyed. anearlier, tho of parisians flooded the streets to watch it, many in silence, others in tears. firefighters will work through the night and we the damage in
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the light of day. already there is talk of the church being rebuilt. i am jane o'brien. thank you for watching this special edition of "world news america." >> with the bbc news app, our verticalideos are designed to work around your lifestyle, so you can ipe your way through the news of the day and stay up-to-date with the latest headlines you n trust. download now from selected app stores. ntationing of this pre is made possible by the freeman foundation, and judy and peter blum-kovler foundation, pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs. >> what are you doing?ti >> possibies.ed your day is fi with them. ve tv, play "downton abbey." >> and pbs helps eryone discover theirs.
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anytime, anywhere. pbs. we are with you for life. >> "bbc world news" was presented by kcet, los angeles.
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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: one of the world's most famous religious landmarks, paris'sam medieval notrecathedral, is engulfed by fire, putting centuries of history at risk. then, cleaning up from this weekend's deadly weather. at least eight people are killed after a tornadoes moves across the southern u.s. and, a conversation with 2020 democratic presintial candidate andrew yang. plus, tiger woods makes a triumphant comeback for the ages, with his victory in this weekend's masters tournament.


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