PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild Notre-Dame cathedral on Monday after a blaze devastated large parts of the gothic gem on Monday.
Smoke could be seen billowing out from the top of the medieval cathedral, as flames lept out besides its two bell towers, witnesses said, while black smoke was seen shooting from the base of the spire, which is undergoing renovation.
"Notre-Dame is our history, our literature, part of our psyche, the place of all our great events, our epidemics, our wars, our liberations, the epicentre of our lives," Macron told reporters in front of the still burning Paris landmark.
French President Emmanuel Macron postponed a televised speech to the nation because of the blaze.
"Notre-Dame is burning, and I know the sadness, and this tremor felt by so many fellow French people. But tonight, I'd like to speak of hope too," he said, announcing the launch of an fundraising campaign.
"Let's be proud, because we built this cathedral more than 800 years ago, we've built it and, throughout the centuries, let it grow and improved it. So I solemnly say tonight: we will rebuild it together," he added.
French firefighters managed to bring the blaze under control in the early hours of Tuesday.
#WATCH: Emmanuel Macron says he is sad to see "a part of us being on fire"— Arab News (@arabnews) April 15, 2019
and extended "thoughts for all the Catholics and all the French." #NotreDame https://t.co/pM0SGlxaOp (Video: AFP) pic.twitter.com/4EzZJWzVfi
Fire spread rapidly through a major portion of the magnificent Gothic cathedral at the heart of Paris. The Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said the fire service was currently "trying to control the flames."
The soaring spire collapsed in flames, and a church spokesman says the entire wooden interior of the 12th century landmark is burning and likely to be destroyed.
The massive fire engulfed the roof of the cathedral in the heart of the French capital as Parisians watched in horror.
Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media: "Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame."
#UPDATE: #Paris emergency services now attempting to salvage the "invaluable" artwork stored in #NotreDame Cathedral from the huge fire engulfing the buildinghttps://t.co/pM0SGlxaOp pic.twitter.com/0BVFqlOzB0— Arab News (@arabnews) April 15, 2019
The cathedral is home to incalculable works of art and is one of the world's most famous tourist attractions.
Paris is disfigured. The city will never be like it was before," said Philippe, a communications worker in his mid-30s, who had biked over after being alerted of the fire by a friend.
"It's a tragedy," he added. "If you pray, now is the time to pray."
#UPDATE: Emmanuel Macron arrives on the scene at #NotreDame Cathedral in #Paris as firefighters continue to tackle the blaze which has destroyed the roof and removed the famous landmark's spirehttps://t.co/pM0SGlfzWR pic.twitter.com/0Hf7kAdupr— Arab News (@arabnews) April 15, 2019
Police were attempting to clear pedestrians away from the two islands in the river Seine, including the Ile de la Cite which houses the soaring Gothic church, one of Europe's best known landmarks.
A major operation was under way, the Parisian fire department added, while a city hall spokesman said on Twitter that the area was being cleared. Police said investigations into the cause of the fire had been opened and was still ongoing, and that no deaths or injuries had been reported.
French media quoted the Paris fire brigade saying the fire is "potentially linked" to the renovation work.
US President Donald Trump called the blaze "horrible" and suggested the deployment of flying water tankers.
"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!" he tweeted.
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