The spire of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris collapsed as a huge fire ravaged the roof of the landmark structure in central Paris on Monday afternoon, at a time when renovation works were being carried out at the site. The cathedral, one of the most historic landmarks in Paris and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, is at least partially destroyed.
Live images of red flames and thick smoke enveloping the roof in centre of Paris, are provoking shock around the world.
The Paris fire service is not sure it will be able to halt the spread of the fire consuming the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral, a senior fire official at the scene told journalists, news agency AFP reported.
“It’s not certain we’ll be able to halt the spread toward the northern bell tower. If that collapses, you can imagine the extent of the damage,” General Jean-Claude Gallet said, adding that 400 firefighters were battling the blaze.
French deputy interior minister Laurent Nunez, also speaking at the scene, added that saving the gothic monument “is not certain.”
Deputy Paris mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said the spire “collapsed inwards” and that workers were scrambling “to save all the artworks that can be saved.”
French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday expressed the “emotion of a whole nation” on seeing the famed Notre-Dame cathedral ablaze and its spire collapse.
“Notre-Dame consumed by flames. Emotion of a whole nation,” Macron tweeted, adding that “like all my compatriots I am sad to see a part of us burn this evening” and expressing solidarity with “all Catholics and all French people.”
Macron, who cancelled a major policy speech to follow events, was on his way to the scene.
Meanwhile, the French civil security agency, Sécurité Civile, has rejected President Donald Trump’s suggestion that “flying water tankers” should be used to fight the Notre Dame fire.
The agency tweeted, “The drop of water by air on this type of building could indeed result in the collapse of the entire structure.”
Trump had suggested that water tankers should be used to douse the flames.
So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
Horrific visuals of the iconic collapse are being shared by netizens across social media.
My heart breaks so badly right now. The Spire of Notre Dame falls. What an extraordinary piece of history this was! A painful loss for not only for France but the entire world! 😢 #NotreDame pic.twitter.com/jMls9Eakfp
— P A B O WITH LUV🤘🏻 (@aegyoeobta) April 15, 2019
“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” a church spokesman told French media.
“Paris without the cathedral is not Paris anymore,” a witness was quoted as saying by CNN.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has described it as a “terrible fire” and urged people at the scene to respect the boundaries set up by fire crews in order to ensure that they remain safe.
Flames burst through the roof of the cathedral, which had scaffolding around it. The fire quickly engulfed the spire, live TV pictures showed.
Firefighters cleared the area around the cathedral, which marks the very centre of the city.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May in a tweet, said, “My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral.”
My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral.
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) April 15, 2019
Images posted on social media showed flames and huge clouds of smoke billowing above the roof of the gothic cathedral, the most visited historic monument in Europe. France 2 television reported that police were treating the incident as an accident.
The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, features in Victor Hugo’s classic novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”. It attracts millions of tourists every year.
(With inputs from Agencies)