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Notre Dame: Delicate work of dismantling cathedral's burnt scaffolding begins after COVID-19 easing

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Workers suspended from ropes will be lowered into the charred remains of scaffolding
Workers suspended from ropes will be lowered into the charred remains of scaffolding   -   Copyright  Thibault Camus/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Workers at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris today began dismantling a 200-tonne tangled web of metal that fused together during the fire that ravaged the historic monument last year.

The delicate task sees workers — suspended from ropes — being lowered into the burnt remains of scaffolding. The work will last throughout the summer months.

Two teams of five workers each will take turns descending on ropes into the heat-warped web of scaffolding, made up of 40,000 pieces, and use saws to cut through metal tubes that fused together in the inferno.

"It's a key step for the cathedral's rebuilding," said Christophe Rousselot, director-general of the Notre Dame Foundation.

He told Euronews the scaffolding was like a "spider's web" that was stuck to the top of the cathedral.

Once the scaffolding is cleared, a more durable temporary roof will be installed to protect Notre Dame's artworks from the rain, which will then allow other restoration work to begin.

Thibault Camus/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Two teams of five workers each will take turns descending on ropes into the heat-warped web of scaffolding,Thibault Camus/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The scaffolding was installed for a renovation of the steeple before the blaze erupted on April 15, 2019.

Its removal "could be dangerous", said Rousselot.

"Even if all precautions are taken, small parts could fall onto the cathedral and destroy some parts of the cathedral," he said.

Work to remove 40,000 bars of scaffolding was put on hold due to coronavirus confinement measures that began on March 17 to contain the spread of the virus.

Millions of people around the world watched as the fire chewed through the church's roof in 2019, which caused the iconic steeple to collapse.

More than a billion euros were pledged for its reconstruction, with French President Emmanuel Macron setting a target of reopening its doors in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

The cathedral is closed and expected to remain shut for several years during restoration.