Fire breaks out at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris

Salma Hayek and Francois Henri Pinault

Smoke billowed out on Monday afternoon (local time) from the top of the gothic cathedral, as flames leapt out beside its two bell towers.

"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.

"So frightful to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris".

In Washington, Trump tweeted: "So frightful to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris" and suggested first responders use "flying water tankers" to put it out. Located in the heart of Paris, it is visted by more than 12 million people a year, according to The Washington Post.

Hundreds of people on bridges around Notre Dame in Paris, watching in shock as fire engulfs the famed cathedral.

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Authorities are investigating if renovation work on the cathedral's spire was a factor in starting or spreading the fire.

Germany lamented the huge fire devastating Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday, with Chancellor Angela Merkel's office calling the building a "symbol of France and of our European culture", reported news agency AFP.

The French president cancelled speech to nation, and rushed to the fire scene. It's unclear if anyone has been hurt. The absence of the statues will also signal the start of the renovation work of the spire that will last until 2022. Macron was expected to lay out his plan to address the citizen complaints that gave rise to the yellow vest protests that have rocked France since November.

"We pray for them and all who are working to bring this fire under control and we will continue to offer our prayers up to them all this week".

The famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (file picture).

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