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Renovation chief: Notre Dame Cathedral is not saved yet

The French general who is overseeing the reconstruction of the fire-devastated Notre Dame Cathedral says the Paris landmark is not saved yet.

Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin told French broadcaster CNews on Sunday that “the cathedral is still in a state of peril” after last year's fire, which destroyed its roof and collapsed its spire as the cathedral was undergoing renovations.

“Notre Dame is not saved because ... there is an extremely important step ahead, which is to remove the scaffolding that had been built around the spire” before the fire, he said.

People walk in front of Notre Dame cathedral, in Paris, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. The rector of Notre Dame Cathedral says the Paris landmark is still so fragile that there's a "50% chance" it might not be entirely saved, because scaffolding installed before this year's fire is threatening the vaults of the Gothic monument. (AP PhotoThibault Camus)

The rector of Notre Dame, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, told the AP last month that the cathedral is still so fragile there's a “50% chance” the structure might not be saved, because the scaffolding may fall onto its fragile vaults.

A former chief of staff of France's armed forces, Georgelin was named by French President Emmanuel Macron to lead the reconstruction effort for Notre Dame.

He said the actual condition of the cathedral's vaults is not fully known, which means he could not guarantee that “it won't fall apart.”

People walk in front of Notre Dame cathedral, in Paris, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. The rector of Notre Dame Cathedral says the Paris landmark is still so fragile that there's a "50% chance" it might not be entirely saved, because scaffolding installed before this year's fire is threatening the vaults of the Gothic monument. (AP PhotoThibault Camus)

Still, Georgelin says “reassuring” observations have been made on the 12th-century cathedral since the April 15 inferno, he said.

“So we feel quite confident," he added.

The scaffolding on Notre Dame should be removed by mid-2020 and the restoration work should start next year, he said.

Notre Dame cathedral, background, is pictured in Paris, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. The rector of Notre Dame Cathedral says the Paris landmark is still so fragile that there's a "50% chance" it might not be entirely saved, because scaffolding installed before this year's fire is threatening the vaults of the Gothic monument. (AP PhotoThibault Camus)

People walk on the Seine river banks, near Notre Dame cathedral, in Paris, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. The rector of Notre Dame Cathedral says the Paris landmark is still so fragile that there's a "50% chance" it might not be entirely saved, because scaffolding installed before this year's fire is threatening the vaults of the Gothic monument. (AP PhotoThibault Camus)

Believers the christmas mass, in Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois church, in Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. Notre Dame Cathedral is unable to host Christmas services for the first time since the French Revolution, because the Paris landmark was too deeply damaged by this year's fire. (AP PhotoThibault Camus)

Believers the christmas mass, in Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois church, in Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. Notre Dame Cathedral is unable to host Christmas services for the first time since the French Revolution, because the Paris landmark was too deeply damaged by this year's fire. (AP PhotoThibault Camus)