Arson Probe Launched After Fire Damages French Cathedral

This photograph taken on July 18, 2020, shows the damage inside the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral in Nantes, western France. Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP
This photograph taken on July 18, 2020, shows the damage inside the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral in Nantes, western France. Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

 

Fire erupted in the gothic cathedral of Nantes in western France on Saturday before being brought under control, sparking an arson investigation and leaving Catholic officials lamenting the loss of priceless historical artefacts.

The cathedral’s 17th century organ was destroyed and its platform was in danger of collapsing, said regional fire chief Laurent Ferlay, but added the damage was not comparable to last year’s devastating blaze at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Passers-by saw flames behind the windows of the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul and alerted the emergency services just before 08:00 am (0600 GMT).

Around 100 firefighters rushed to the scene and managed to control the blaze at the gothic structure, built between 15th and 19th centuries, said Ferlay.

Nantes prosecutor Pierre Sennes noted that the fire had started in three different places, meaning a judicial investigation for possible arson was opened, although no conclusions had yet been drawn.

“When we arrive at a place where a fire has taken place, when you see three separate fire outbreaks, it’s a question of common sense, you open an investigation,” Sennes told AFP.

‘An unimaginable loss’

Local Catholic official Father François Renaud, who oversees the cathedral, surveyed the damage with firemen on Saturday morning and told AFP the great organ had “completely disappeared”, describing it as “an unimaginable loss”.

“The console of the choir organ has gone up in smoke along with the adjoining wooden stalls. Original stained glass windows behind the great organ have all shattered,” he said.

Firefighters are at work to put out a fire at the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral in Nantes, western France, on July 18, 2020. Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP
Firefighters are at work to put out a fire at the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral in Nantes, western France, on July 18, 2020. Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

 

While the blaze was still raging, President Emmanuel Macron tweeted his support for “our firefighters who are taking all the risks to save this gothic jewel”.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said he would visit the scene later on Saturday along with other ministers, telling reporters he wanted to know what happened “but first I’m going to show my solidarity with the people of Nantes”.

The building was last hit by fire in 1972 and its roof took more than 13 years to repair.

Ferlay played down any comparison with Notre-Dame, which caught fire during repair work in April last year.

Reinforced roof

Much of Notre-Dame’s roof and wooden structure was destroyed, its steeple collapsed and fumes containing toxic molten lead billowed into the air. The structure will take years to repair.

Another religious building in Nantes — the Basilica of St Donatian and St Rogatian — was struck by a fire in 2015 that destroyed three-quarters of its roof.

A French Police officer gestures as firefighters are at work to put out a fire at the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral in Nantes, western France, on July 18, 2020. Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP
A French Police officer gestures as firefighters are at work to put out a fire at the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral in Nantes, western France, on July 18, 2020. Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

 

“I would like to stress that following the 1972 fire, the roof was redone with concrete reinforcement,” Ferlay said.

He said emergency crews had tried to make sure that works of art inside the building had been protected.

The cathedral’s organ was first built in 1621 and has undergone five restorations since — the latest one ending in 1971.

During the 18th century revolutionary period the authorities had wanted to melt down its pipes for scrap, but the organist intervened and argued that the instrument could instead be used for “revolutionary ceremonies”, according to historian Paul Chopelin.

 

AFP

Man Allegedly Sets Wife Ablaze In Ondo

 

 

The life of a middle aged woman, Dorcas Daniyan has allegedly been cut short by her husband, who set her ablaze in the night in their house located within Akure, the Ondo State capital.

The suspect, Mr Ojo Daniyan who is a welder was reported to have threatened to set his wife ablaze twice before the incident.

Channels Television gathered that on the fateful night, at about eleven O’clock, the neighbours were alerted by Mr Daniyan that their house was on fire.

One of the neighbours is said to have forced the door open and the woman who had already been burnt severely was brought out of the room.

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There are suggestions that the couple have been at loggerheads as a result of Dorcas’ decision to buy a piece of land without adding her husband’s name as co-owner.

The younger sister of the deceased, Bosede Richards and a neighbor, Kehinde Ajayi narrate their versions of how unfortunate incident happened to channels television.

According to Bosede, Mr Ojo had once reported the issue of the land to her, threatening to set his wife ablaze.

Kehinde Ajayi on the other hand disclosed that that Ojo brought some curtains into the house, adding that it was later discovered that underneath the curtains were plastic bottles containing petrol from where the fire started.

She added that the the burns on Dorcas’ body were severe and they lead to her death a few days later.

The spokesperson to the Ondo state police command, SP Femi Joseph speaking on the incident informed Channels Television that the suspect is being interrogated.

He said the suspect is claiming to be innocent, adding that his daughter had made some statements that linked him to the crime.

Late Dorcas Daniyan who is a mother of five, has since been buried, but the family is calling for justice and the police has promised to get to the root of the matter.

24 Dead, 35 Injured In Suspected Arson Attack On Japan Animation Studio

Firefighters and rescue personnel search an animation company building after a fire broke out in Kyoto on July 18, 2019. At least 24 people are feared dead in a suspected arson attack on the animation company in the Japanese city of Kyoto on July 18, a fire department official told AFP. PHOTO: JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

A suspected arson attack on an animation production company in Japan killed 24 people and injured dozens more on Thursday, with flames gutting the building in the city of Kyoto.

Officials said 35 people had also been injured in the fire, 10 of whom were in serious condition, and local media said around 70 people were believed to have been in the building when the fire started.

Police said the fierce blaze appeared to have been started deliberately but there was no immediate information on a possible motive.

The toll continued to climb hours after the fire began, with fire department officials saying bodies were being discovered as they searched the ravaged building.

A fire department official told AFP that at least 11 more people had been found “in cardio-respiratory arrest,” a term used in Japan to signify a victim’s death before it is officially certified.

The discoveries, on the building’s second floor and a stairwell leading to the roof, raised the toll to at least 24 dead.

Footage of the blaze showed thick white smoke pouring from the windows of the three-storey building. Its facade was charred black on much of one side where the flames had shot out of the windows.

 ‘Drop dead’

The fire department said it began receiving calls around 10:35 am (0135 GMT) about the fire at the studio belonging to Kyoto Animation.

“Callers reported having heard a loud explosion from the first floor of Kyoto Animation and seeing smoke,” a fire department spokesman said.

Police said they were still investigating the cause of the fire but it was a suspected arson attack.

“A man threw a liquid and set fire to it,” a Kyoto prefectural police spokesman told AFP.

Public broadcaster NHK reported that a man had been detained in connection with the blaze and was later taken to hospital for treatment.

It reported that the suspect had poured a gasoline-like substance around the building and said “drop dead” as he set fire to it.

 

‘Raging’ flames

Witnesses described a powerful blaze.

“I heard two loud bangs, they sounded like explosions,” a man told NHK.

“The fire was raging hard. I saw red flames flaring.”

A woman living nearby told Kyodo news agency she had seen at least one injured person outside the building.

“A person with singed hair was lying down and there were bloody footprints,” the 59-year-old told the local news outlet.

There was no immediate statement from the studio, which produced several well-known television anime series, including “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” and “K-ON!”

“We are in the process of learning what happened,” said a woman who answered the phone at the firm’s headquarters in Uji City in the Kyoto region.

“We cannot tell you anything more,” she added.

The blaze prompted an outpouring of support from those in Japan’s anime industry, one of the country’s best known cultural exports.

“No, I don’t know what I should be thinking now,” tweeted Yutaka Yamamoto, an animation director who once worked at Kyoto Animation.

“Why, why, why?”

Japan has a famously low crime rate, with violent crime very rare.

Arson is considered a serious crime and people convicted of deliberately setting fires in a country where many people still live in wooden houses can face the death penalty.

A man convicted of setting a fire that killed 16 people in Osaka in 2008 is currently on death row.

AFP

Nanny Executed For Deadly Arson In China

 

 

A Chinese nanny was executed on Friday for setting a fire that killed her employer’s wife and three children, a crime that shocked the country and raised questions over the official handling of the blaze.

Mo Huanjing, who had a gambling problem, was found guilty of arson earlier this year following the June 2017 fire in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

The 35-year-old woman’s execution was carried out after it was approved by China’s supreme court, according to the Zhejiang province prosecutor’s office.

“The devil Mo Huanjing is finally executed,” Lin Shengbin, the father of the family of five, wrote to his 2.6 million followers on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.

“We have waited too long for this day,” added 37-year-old Lin, who was away when the fire occurred.

“This is a measure of comfort for Xiaozhen (Lin’s wife) and the kids’ souls in heaven.”

The case went viral in China due to the tragic circumstances and reported delays in the firefighting response.

Mo was allegedly an obsessive gambler who stole jewelry and borrowed money from Lin’s family as her debts mounted. The Zhejiang court said items and money belonging to the family worth more than 300,000 yuan ($44,000) remained missing in June.

The court said Mo admitted to starting a fire in the living room of the family’s 18th-floor apartment, planning to put it out quickly to play the hero and use the resulting goodwill to seek more money from her employers.

But the fire rapidly raged out of control and Mo escaped, leaving behind Lin’s 34-year-old wife Zhu Xiaozhen and three children aged six, nine, and 11, who all died of asphyxiation.

Lin has previously blamed Greentown, the builder of the high-rise and a major listed property developer, saying poor safety features in the apartment complex contributed to a delayed firefighting response.

The fire department last year denied accusations that it was slow to respond, instead blaming low water pressure and a lack of required fire safety features in the building.

China regularly sees deadly fire disasters, often blamed on the lax enforcement or flouting of fire safety rules.

AFP

Nanny Sentenced To Death In Tragic Arson Case

This handout picture taken on February 9, 2018 and released by the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court shows defendant Mo Huanjing (C) listening to her sentence in the court
PHOTO: Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court / AFP

 

A Chinese nanny with heavy gambling debts was sentenced to death Friday for setting a fire that killed her employer’s wife and children in a tragedy which grabbed national attention and raised questions over official handling of the case.

A court in the eastern city of Hangzhou found Mo Huanjing, a nanny for a family of five, guilty of arson in the fire that killed a mother and her three children on June 22 last year, and sentenced her to death.

The case went viral in China due to the tragic circumstances and reported delays in the firefighting response, with Friday’s court announcement among the top-trending items on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform, with tens of millions of “reads”.

The Weibo hashtag “Wife and kids in heaven June 22” by 37-year-old Lin Shengbin, who was away when the fire occurred, has generated nearly 1.3 billion “reads” since the tragedy first occurred.

Mo, 35, was allegedly an obsessive gambler who borrowed and also stole money from the family as her debts mounted.

The court said Mo admitted to starting a fire in the living room of the family’s 18th-floor high-rise apartment in Hangzhou, planning to put it out quickly to play the hero and use the resulting goodwill to seek more money from her employers.

But the fire rapidly raged out of control and Mo escaped, leaving behind Lin’s 34-year-old wife Zhu Xiaozhen and three children aged six, nine, and 11 years, who all died of asphyxiation.

 

Lin has gained 2.3 million Weibo followers since he opened an account to document his efforts to seek justice.

“The devil has finally received the punishment of the law, the death penalty,” Lin said in a post on Friday.

“I have suffered day and night for the past 200 days, and today finally received the verdict.”

Lin said he planned to pursue civil cases against other “powerful” parties who he blames for the deaths.

He did not offer specific details, but has previously blamed Greentown, the builder of the high-rise and a major listed property developer, saying poor safety features in the apartment complex contributed to a delayed fire-fighting response.

The fire department last year denied accusations that it was slow to respond, instead blaming low water pressure and a lack of required fire safety features in the building.

China regularly sees deadly fire disasters, often blamed on the lax enforcement or flouting of fire safety rules.

 

AFP