Devastating fire ravages Notre Dame Cathedral

The world-famous French cathedral, Notre Dame, in Paris has been ravaged by a major fire, which was extinguished with eight-and-a-half hours' efforts of roughly 500 French firemen.

The fire broke out at 6.50 p.m. local time (1650GMT) in a section of the cathedral where renovation works were being done.

In a short while, the fire spread to other parts of the cathedral.

The 93-meter (305-foot) spire of the building collapsed at 7.53 p.m. local time (1753GMT) and the roof of the cathedral collapsed at 8.07 p.m. (1807GMT).

Many Parisians nearby Notre Dame Cathedral gathered to witness the tragedy with sorrow.

French President Emmanuel Macron rushed to the scene at 8.15 p.m. local time (1815GMT).

Macron postponed a scheduled speech on the Yellow Vest protests and wrote in a Twitter post: "As all citizens, tonight I'm sad to see this part of us burning."

The Ile de la Cite zone -- an island where Notre Dame is located -- was evacuated at 8.25 p.m. (1825GMT) and French authorities said they were not sure if the cathedral could be saved from fire or not.

Laurent Nunez, secretary of state to the French interior minister, said at 10.50 p.m. (2005GMT) that the intensity of fire diminished and that the flames had been stopped from reaching the main structure and north belfry.

In his speech at 11.30 p.m. (2130GMT), Macron said that the main structure of Notre Dame was saved and described Monday's fire as "tragedy".

"Notre Dame is our history, it's our literature, it's our imagery. It's the place where we live our greatest moments, from wars to pandemics to liberations," he said, adding that France should be proud of this cathedral as the country built it at least 800 years ago.

Macron vowed to rebuild Notre Dame.

The fire at Notre Dame was put out after eight-and-a-half hours, a spokesman for the local fire brigade said late Monday.

Firefighters will continue to ensure that the fire, which seriously damaged the iconic landmark, does not resume, Lt. Col. Gabriel Plus told reporters.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, but the fire department authorities that it might probably be caused by renovation works, costing €6 million ($6.7 million).

Paris prosecutors have launched an investigation to find out the cause of the fire.

The incident has upset French people, other European countries as well as Turkey.

Spanish premier Pedro Sanchez, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, Vatican and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu expressed their sorrows over the incident.

The Notre Dame Cathedral is regarded as the symbol of Christianity for its history that dates back to more than 850 years, as it was started to be built in 1163.

One of the most important touristic spots of Paris, Notre Dame's -- which means "Our Lady" -- construction completed in 1345.

Every year almost 13 million people visit the cathedral and it has a Virgin Mary's sculpture, rose windows, giant bells and medieval furniture.

This masterpiece of architecture was immortalized by French poet and novelist Victor Hugo in his famous novel Hunchback of Notre-Dame published in 1831.

During the French revolution era it was seriously damaged and has been restored many times.

The cathedral -- described as the symbol of Christianity in France by the Vatican -- hosts the Paris Archbishopric.

France will start a campaign to renovate Notre Dame Cathedral after it was badly damaged.

French Heritage Foundation said that it will launch an aid campaign to rebuild this church.

Separately Pinault family -- a billionaire French family -- announced that they will donate €100 million ($112.9 million) to rebuild it.

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