19:43 GMT04 July 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The prefect of the central Paris region has ordered the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs to shut the Notre Dame construction site starting Thursday to address lead contamination.

    "The prefect of Ile de France, the prefect of Paris, Michel Cafot, has demanded that DRAC suspend the construction site starting this evening, July 25, 2019 until the installation takes measures to remove lead," the prefect’s office said in a statement.

    Hundreds of tonnes of lead contained in Notre Dame’s roof and spire melted when the 850-year-old Gothic church went up in flames in April. Authorities initially said there was no risk of contamination. Lead can cause damage to the nervous system when inhaled.

    The announcement comes hours after two nearby schools were reportedly shut to allow decontamination. The BFMTV broadcaster reported that the schools were hosting 180 children during summer holidays.

    President Emmanuel Macron made an ambitious promise to rebuild the iconic cathedral within five years. The devastating fire prompted a stream of donation pledges worth 850 million euros ($953 million).

    Contamination, Paris, France, Notre Dame de Paris
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