Notre Dame Cathedral was ravaged by a devastating fire on April 15, which, within just hours, destroyed its iconic spire and its original wooden roof. But what has remained intact is not safe from further destruction, as the cathedral’s structure has been hugely weakened by the fire, Paolo Vannucci, a mechanical engineer at the University of Versailles, warned. Mr Vannucci, the same researcher whose team had warned the possible devastation a fire within the cathedral would bring, claimed Notre Dame’s stone structure can no longer sustain very strong gusts of wind.
The intact structure of the cathedral could cope with gusts of 136mph, Mr Vannucci said, while he believes winds stronger than 55mph would now trigger the collapse of the entire building.
Mr Vannucci told Italian newspaper Repubblica: “Notre-Dame is not yet safe.
“According to my calculations, the risks of a collapse of the vault are very high.
READ MORE: Macron BACKLASH: Furious Parisians CONDEMN Notre Dame reconstruction- ‘We are STARVING’
“In a non-seismic zone like the area where Notre Dame has been built, the first danger the cathedral incurs into is strong winds.
“Before the fire, the cathedral could resist winds with strength superior to 136mph.
“But now, the destruction of the carpentry and the vault in the central nave has provoked the loss of resistance in the structure equal to 60 percent.
“The cathedral is now more vulnerable to a wind storm than it was before.”
Notre Dame’s iconic spire, which was entirely destroyed by flames within just minutes, provided extra strength to the building, the engineer said.
Mr Vannucci added the strengthening and restoring the structural system of the cathedral should be the outmost priority in the re-building process, but it will require months of work.
The fire broke out just before 6pm GMT (7pm local time) in a roof area of the cathedral which was undergoing £6m worth of renovation works, and kept on burning for nine hours before firefighters managed to put it under control.
French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild Notre Dame in just five years, in time for the 2024 summer Olympics taking place in Paris.
On May 10 the French Parliament, the Assemblee Nationale, approved a law approving the reconstruction of Notre Dame in that timeframe, and it is now due to be passed by the Senate on May 27.
However, some experts are concerned about the reconstruction being rushed.
Olivier de Châlus, a medieval researcher at Sorbonne University in Paris and spokesperson for the Association of Experts in Service of the Notre-Dame Restoration, told France 24: “We are really concerned by this bill, especially when it comes to preventive archaeology, because we need to be familiar with each part of the cathedral and its surroundings before taking any decision.”