Asbestos alert may shut Paris skyscraper

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The famous Montparnasse Tower, the only skyscraper in central Paris and one of the tallest buildings in Europe, is riddled with asbestos and may have to be emptied for up to three years.

The famous Montparnasse Tower, the only skyscraper in central Paris and one of the tallest buildings in Europe, is riddled with asbestos and may have to be emptied for up to three years.

An overdue report presented to the tenants and co-proprietors of the 59-storey tower says half a dozen materials containing potentially carcinogenic asbestos were used when the 210-metre high tower was erected between 1969 and 1972.

The owners and management company now face a €240m (£175m) bill for stripping dangerous materials. The most rapid, but most disruptive and expensive solution, would force a three-year closure of the building.

The Montparnasse Tower was a controversial addition to the skyline of Paris when completed in 1972. To some, it symbolised the end of the conservative, post-war, era and the emergence of a modern, hi-tech France under President Georges Pompidou.

To others, the slab-sided tower was a ghastly intrusion in the centre of the world's most beautiful city, provoking the same kind of indignation as the Eiffel Tower when it was completed in 1889.

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