Climbers drag tarps over gutted Notre-Dame

Workers and climbers have begun covering vulnerable parts of Notre-Dame before the rain sets in.
Workers and climbers have begun covering vulnerable parts of Notre-Dame before the rain sets in.

Professional mountain climbers have been hired to install synthetic, waterproof tarps over the gutted, exposed exterior of Notre-Dame Cathedral, as authorities race to prevent further damage ahead of storms that are rolling in towards Paris.

The looming bad weather threatens to further damage the 850-year-old cathedral whose roof was destroyed by the April 15 blaze, leaving the church to the mercy of the elements.

Architect-in-chief Philippe Villeneuve said he had to rush the installation of the protective covers starting on Tuesday.

"The climbers, since it will be climbers who will do that, and the scaffolders, are ready," Villeneuve told BFMTV.

"The beams are there, the tarpaulin on its way .... The highest priority is to protect the cathedral from the rain to come."

Some of Notre-Dame's remaining statues were removed by crane before the tarpaulins were hoisted up. Workers in the afternoon began dragging them over to cover vulnerable parts of the structure.

Parts of the cathedral, including its partially-destroyed vaulted ceiling, had already been soaked with water after firefighters desperately fought the blaze for more than 12 hours that day.

Notre-Dame's vaulted ceiling was also badly damaged after the cathedral's 19th-century spire burnt up and collapsed.

Australian Associated Press