(updated at 21:48 GMT): Even the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has tweeted in English to respond to the international shock over the burning of Notre-Dame de Paris.
Notre-Dame de Paris fire April 16: Update 23:54
Notre-Dame is aflame. Great emotion for the whole nation. Our thoughts go out to all Catholics and to the French people. Like all of my fellow citizens, I am sad to see this part of us burn tonight. https://t.co/27CrJgJkJbEmmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 15, 2019
(updated at 21:48 GMT): Further reactions from outside France. This time from former US president Barack Obama.
Barak Obama on fire in Notre-Dame
Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can. pic.twitter.com/SpMEvv1BzBBarack Obama (@BarackObama) April 15, 2019
(updated at 21:40 GMT): Here is an interview with a firefighter on our sister TV channel France24 on the difficulties involved with fighting a fire like this.
Notre-Dame de Paris fire April 16: Update 23:38
(updated at 21:27 GMT):France's Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez, speaking to reporters, has said that for the first time "the fire had decreased in intensity" while still urging "extreme caution".
(updated at 21:12GMT):One of the 400 firefighters battling the blaze has been seriously injured, says general Jean-Claude Gallet of the Paris fire brigade, confirming that his crews have managed to stop the flames from reaching the belfry and prevented a catastrophic collapse.
(updated at 21:00 GMT): In press conference (via @franceinfo), fire chief says #NotreDame structure + 2 towers can be saved, though firefighters working on cooling off the building... at least one person is badly injured
(updated at 20:50 GMT):Chancellor Angela Merkel: "I am deeply saddened to follow the events in #Paris and to see the horrible images of #NotreDame in flames. #NotreDame is a symbol of France and of our European culture. Our thoughts are with our French friends at this difficult time. #NotreDameFire."
(updated at 20:37 GMT):The next 90 minutes 'crucial' to saving Notre-Dame. A spokesman for the Paris fire department says the next hour and a half will be 'crucial' to determining whether the fire can be contained. "We are not certain we can stop the flames spreading in the north tower," said general Jean-Claude Gallet of the Paris fire department.
(updated at 20:09 GMT):The Vatican expresses ‘shock and sadness’."The fire that devastated Notre Dame Cathedral has caused shock and sadness. The terrible news of the fire that has devastated the cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world, was received in the Holy See with shock and sadness," Alessandro Gisotti said in a statement. "We express our closeness to French Catholics and to the people of Paris and we assure our prayers for the fire fighters and all those who are doing everything possible deal with this dramatic situation," he said.
(updated at 20:09 GMT): This latest video from French news agency shows the fire catching.
Paris Notre Dame fire update 22:05
Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was completed in the mid-12th century, vandalised duing the French Revolution in the 1700s, featured as a central character in the 1831 Victor Hugo novel and survived the devastation of two world conflicts in the 20th century pic.twitter.com/ht8RCv9XqlAFP news agency (@AFP) April 15, 2019
(updated at 19:50 GMT): RFI English reporter Michael Woods took this photo of efforts to calm the fire as the crowd watched:
Paris Notre Dame fire update 19:49 GMT
(updated at 19:31 GMT): President Emmanuel Macron said he is treating the fire as a national emergency
(updated at 19:20 GMT)
(updated at 19:05 GMT) This tweet was sent from our sister TV station France 24
Paris' Notre Dame on fire
(updated at 19:05 GMT): The United Nations' cultural agency, which is based in Paris, said Monday that it "stood at France's side to save and restore" the cathedral, describing it as "a priceless heritage".
Audrey Azoulay, secretary general of UNESCO, said the agency was monitoring the effort to put out the blaze, which has consumed the iconic church's spire as flames spread across the roof.
Notre-Dame was added to UNESCO's world heritage list in 1991
(updated at 19:01 GMT): According to French officials there were no deaths... The cathedral closes at 18:45 and the fire started 5 or 6 minutes after'
(updated at 18:50 GMT)
Images on social media have already been making the rounds.
Even the US President Donald Trump felt sentimental about this iconic church going up in flames:
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
Just last year, the popular tourist spot put out a call for funds to save the cathedral.
It had begun to crumble.
Last week as part of the effort to bring back its youthful glow, 16 of the intricate statues were airlifted before being prepared to be sent south to the country where they will be restored.
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.
Macron cancels television appearance
French President Emmnauel Macron tweeted that the fire ravashing the Cathedral is an emotional event for the entire nation.
Macron added that he, just like everyone else, is sad this evening to this part of burn.
Notre-Dame de Paris en proie aux flammes. Émotion de toute une nation. Pensée pour tous les catholiques et pour tous les Français. Comme tous nos compatriotes, je suis triste ce soir de voir brûler cette part de nous.Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 15, 2019
The President was due to address the nation this evening in response to the big debate and the on-going Yellow Vests protests.
Instead, he is cancelling that and will address the nationa at another date.
He is now expected to head to the Notre Dame Cathedral.