The spire of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris collapsed on Monday as a huge fire ravaged the roof of the famed gothic monument, deputy Paris mayor Emmanuel Gregoire told BFM TV, describing "colossal damage".
Gregoire said the spire "collapsed inwards" and that workers were scrambling "to save all the artworks that can be saved."
President Emmanuel Macron was on his way to the scene.
The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year.
A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze.
HORRIBLE ???????????? #NotreDame#Parispic.twitter.com/h3i1Lfl0uh— Merryl (@merrylzr) April 15, 2019
HORRIBLE ???????????? #NotreDame#Parispic.twitter.com/h3i1Lfl0uh
— Merryl (@merrylzr) April 15, 2019
The fire service said the blaze could be "potentially linked" to ongoing renovations.
President Emmanuel Macron cancelled a major televised policy speech he was due to give on Monday evening over the "terrible fire ravaging Notre-Dame."
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo in a tweet described it as a "terrible fire".
"The Paris fire service is trying to control the flames," she 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".
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!"
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
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
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.
A burning smell filled the air.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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