Crowds have gathered to watch in disbelief as one of the world’s most recognisable landmarks is engulfed by a devastating fire.
Locals and tourists gathered across Paris as an inferno rapidly took hold of the Notre Dame cathedral today, destroying parts of the historic Gothic building, including its roof and it’s iconic spire.
Shocked Parisians wept openly on the street as firefighters battled flames engulfing the beloved landmark. As the fire continued to burn, crowds of distressed locals and dazed tourists stood together at the foot of the building, singing hymns.
“I’m devastated,” local resident Elizabeth Caille told the New York Times. “It’s a symbol of Paris. It’s a symbol of Christianity. It’s a whole world that is collapsing.”
Another Parisian told London’s Telegraph: “People are just in a state of total shock. It’s almost like a cultural September 11.”
An emotional French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre Dame which he called the “epicentre of our lives”.
With tears in his eyes Mr Macron said that “the worst has been avoided” thanks to the work of firefighters who saved the cathedral’s two towers and facade and vowed to draw on “the best talent” to rebuild the rest.
Across Paris locals reacted with shock and horror to the destruction of the 850-year-old building, weeping openly in the streets.
The mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo said: “No words can describe the pain I feel in seeing Notre Dame ravaged by flames. Tonight, all Parisians and French mourn this emblem of our common history.”
World leaders sent their thoughts and prayers to France on learning of the devastating fire.
As the flames tore through the 12th-century cathedral, Spain’s Prime Minister offered France the help of his country in the recovery and reconstruction of the building.
The fire is a “catastrophe for France, for Spain and for Europe,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted, adding that the flames are destroying “850 years of history, architecture, painting and sculpture.”
US President Donald Trump called it horrible and suggested ways to help extinguish the blaze.
The Notre Dame Cathedral, situated on an island in the Seine River in the heart of Paris, is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, drawing some 13 million people each year. The fire’s emotional impact was widely felt. People from many parts of the world described in Facebook posts how they cried when they heard about the fire.
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