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Notre-Dame cathedral: Firefighters tackle blaze in Paris Notre-Dame cathedral: Firefighters tackle blaze in Paris
(about 1 hour later)
A major fire has engulfed one of France's most famous landmarks - the medieval Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. A major fire has engulfed the medieval Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, one of France's most famous landmarks.
Firefighters are battling to save the 850-year-old Gothic building, but its spire and roof have collapsed. The 850-year-old Gothic building's spire and roof have collapsed but the main structure, including the two bell towers, has been saved, officials say.
The cause is not yet clear, but officials say that it could be linked to renovation work. Firefighters are still working to contain the blaze as teams are trying to salvage the artwork stored inside.
A Paris fire official said the main structure had now been "saved and preserved". President Emmanuel Macron called it a "terrible tragedy". The cause of the fire is not yet clear.
The Paris prosecutor's office said it has opened an inquiry into "accidental destruction by fire." But officials say it could be linked to the renovation work that began after cracks appeared in the stone, sparking fears the structure could become unstable.
Loud bangs could be heard as flames burst through the cathedral's roof, also destroying its stained-glass windows. The Paris prosecutor's office said it has opened an inquiry into "accidental destruction by fire".
All efforts are now being put into saving the cathedral's artwork and preventing the collapse of its northern tower. Visiting the scene, Mr Macron said the "worst had been avoided" and that an international fundraising scheme to rebuild the cathedral would be launched.
Thousands of people have gathered in the streets around the cathedral, observing the flames in silence. Some could be seen openly weeping, while others sang hymns or said prayers. How did the fire spread?
Several churches around the French capital have been ringing their bells in response to the blaze. The fire began early on Monday evening and quickly reached the roof of the cathedral, destroying its stained-glass windows and the wooden interior before toppling the spire.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has arrived at the scene, said his thoughts were with "all Catholics and all French people." Firefighters worked for hours to prevent one of the main bell towers from collapsing.
"Like all of my countrymen, I am sad tonight to see this part of us burn." But the main structure had been "saved and preserved" from total destruction, Paris fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said.
Mr Macron had earlier cancelled an important TV speech to the nation because of the fire, an Élysée Palace official said. Deputy Paris Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said the cathedral had suffered "colossal damages", and teams were working to save the cathedral's remaining valuable artwork.
A spokesman for the cathedral said the whole structure was "burning". Speaking to French broadcaster BFMTV, historian Camille Pascal said "invaluable heritage" had been destroyed, adding: "Happy and unfortunate events for centuries have been marked by the bells of Notre Dame. We can be only horrified by what we see".
"It remains to be seen whether the vault, which protects the cathedral, will be affected or not", he said. How have people reacted?
Historian Camille Pascal told French broadcaster BFMTV the fire was destroying "invaluable heritage." Thousands of people gathered in the streets around the cathedral, observing the flames in silence. Some could be seen openly weeping, while others sang hymns or said prayers.
"For 800 years the Cathedral has watched over Paris", he said. Several churches around Paris rang their bells in response to the blaze.
"Happy and unfortunate events for centuries have been marked by the bells of Notre Dame. Mr Macron, who cancelled an address to the nation because of the fire, said the cathedral was a building "for all French people", including those who had never been there.
"We can be only horrified by what we see". "We will rebuild Notre Dame together", he said as he praised the "extreme courage" and "professionalism" of the firefighters.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo urged people to respect the boundaries set up by fire crews in order to ensure that they remain safe.
"There are a lot of art works inside...it's a real tragedy," she told reporters.
A symbol of a countryA symbol of a country
Analysis by Henri Astier, BBC World OnlineAnalysis by Henri Astier, BBC World Online
No other site represents France quite like Notre-Dame. Its main rival as a national symbol, the Eiffel Tower, is little more than a century old. Notre-Dame has stood tall above Paris since the 1200s.No other site represents France quite like Notre-Dame. Its main rival as a national symbol, the Eiffel Tower, is little more than a century old. Notre-Dame has stood tall above Paris since the 1200s.
It has given its name to one of the country's literary masterpieces. Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is known to the French simply as Notre Dame de Paris. It has given its name to one of the country's literary masterpieces. Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is known to the French simply as Notre-Dame de Paris.
The last time the cathedral suffered major damage was during the French Revolution. It survived two world wars largely unscathed.The last time the cathedral suffered major damage was during the French Revolution. It survived two world wars largely unscathed.
Watching such an embodiment of the permanence of a nation burn and its spire collapse is profoundly shocking to any French person.Watching such an embodiment of the permanence of a nation burn and its spire collapse is profoundly shocking to any French person.
"I have a lot of friends who live abroad and every time they come I tell them to go to Notre-Dame," eyewitness Samantha Silva told the Reuters news agency.
"I've visited it so many times, but it will never be the same. It's a real symbol of Paris."
US President Donald Trump suggested "perhaps flying water tankers" could be used to extinguish the fire.
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered her support to the people of France, calling Notre-Dame a "symbol of French and European culture".
"My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral", UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in a tweet.
The Vatican has said news of the fire has caused "shock and sadness," adding that it was praying for the French fire services.
The Notre-Dame cathedral, a popular tourist attraction, was undergoing renovations after cracks began to appear in the stone, sparking fears the structure could become unstable.
Last year, the Catholic Church in France appealed for funds to save the building.
Facts about Notre-DameFacts about Notre-Dame
What has been the international reaction?
The Vatican has said news of the fire has caused "shock and sadness," adding that it was praying for the French fire services.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in a tweet: "My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral".
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered her support to the people of France, calling Notre-Dame a "symbol of French and European culture".
US President Donald Trump suggested "perhaps flying water tankers" could be used to extinguish the fire.
Are you in the area? Did you witness the fire? Emailhaveyoursay@bbc.co.ukAre you in the area? Did you witness the fire? Emailhaveyoursay@bbc.co.uk
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