Fire ravages Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, spire collapses; Trump, Macron, Merkel express grief

The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year.

Published: 16th April 2019 12:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th April 2019 01:08 AM   |  A+A-

This combination of file photographs shows the steeple Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral - (L) taken on June 26, 2018 showing sculptures and the steeple and (R) the steeple of the landmark cathedral collapsing as the cathedral is engulfed in flames in central Paris on April 15, 2019. (Photo | AFP)

By AFP

PARIS: A colossal fire swept through the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on Monday, causing a spire to collapse and raising fears over the future of the nearly millenium old building and its precious artworks.

The fire, which began in the early evening, sent flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the Paris sky as stunned Parisians and tourists watched on in sheer horror.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately confirmed but the cathedral had been undergoing intense restoration work to help the 850-year-old gothic masterpiece better deal with the tests of time.

The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. Deputy Paris mayor Emmanuel Gregoire told BFM TV the spire "collapsed inwards" and that workers were scrambling "to save all the artworks that can be saved."

A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze.

Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof
at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. 

"Everything is burning," the spokesman for Notre Dame, Andre Finot, told AFP. The fire service said the blaze could be "potentially linked" to ongoing renovations.

Emotion of a nation

President Emmanuel Macron cancelled a major televised policy speech he was due to give on Monday evening over the "terrible fire ravaging Notre-Dame."

He was to head to the scene in person, the Elysee announced. In a tweet he expressed the "emotion of a whole nation" on seeing Notre-Dame ablaze.

"Like all my compatriots I am sad to see a part of us burn this evening" he said, expressing solidarity with "all Catholics and all French people."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Notre-Dame cathedral a "symbol of European culture" as the blaze raged. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo in a tweet described it as a "terrible fire".

Vast clouds of grey-white smoke billowed round the cathedral as yellow flames still licked the top of the building.

There was no immediate indication of any casualties in the blaze. "The Paris fire service is trying to control the flames," Hidalgo wrote on Twitter, asking residents to respect the security cordon thrown up around the site.

A spokesperson for the cathedral said the fire, which comes as French Catholics prepare to celebrate Easter, broke out at around 1650 GMT.

Fire trucks could be seen speeding through Paris towards the scene on the Ile de la Cite -- an island in the Seine at the heart of Paris.

The Paris police department in a tweet called on residents to avoid the area and to "make way for rescue vehicles".

Horrible to watch

US President Donald Trump in a tweet said: "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!"

A man watches the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral burn, engulfed in flames, in central Paris on April 15, 2019.

Hundreds of people gathered on the bridges of Paris downriver to witness the scene, some filming the images with their smartphones, an AFP reporter said.

The cathedral had been undergoing intense restoration work which last week saw statues lifted from the top of the cathedral.

Built between the years 1163 and 1345, Notre-Dame is one of the most popular tourist sites in Paris, drawing around 13 million people every year.

The spire, like the rest of the gothic edifice, had been undergoing the 11-million-euro ($12.4-million) overhaul financed by the French state to repair damage inflicted by time, pollution and the weather.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp