Firefighters have been battling a devastating blaze at the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Gregoire, said the 850-year-old cathedral had suffered “colossal damages”.
Tourists and Parisians alike watched in horror from the streets below as thick plumes of smoke billowed high into the sky above the French capital.
French media quoted the Paris fire brigade as saying the fire is “potentially linked” to a six million euro (£5.1 million) renovation project on the church’s spire and its 250 tons of lead.
Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages as well as one of the most beloved structures in the world.
President Emmanuel Macron was treating the fire as a national emergency and rushed to the scene and straight into meetings at the Paris police headquarters nearby.
A hole left by Notre Dame’s fallen spire was still burning and sparks were spilling down from the cathedral’s vaulted ceilings more than five hours after the fire broke out, while pictures of the damage from inside the cathedral also started to emerge.
As Tuesday dawned, crowds of people came to view the damage and take pictures, while firefighters could be seen taking a break on the walls around Notre Dame’s gardens.