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The year-old Gothic building's spire and roof have collapsed but the main structure, including the two bell towers, has been saved, officials say. Firefighters are still working to contain the blaze as teams try to salvage the artwork stored inside.

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The year-old Gothic building's spire and tl have collapsed but the main structure, including the two bell towers, has been saved, officials say. Firefighters are still working to contain the blaze as teams try to salvage the artwork stored inside. President Emmanuel Macron called it a "terrible tragedy".

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The cause of the fire is not yet clear. Officials say it could be linked to the renovation work that began after cracks appeared in the stone, sparking fears the structure could become unstable. Paris prosecutor's office said it had opened an inquiry into "accidental destruction by fire".

Francr A firefighter was seriously injured while tackling the blaze. Visibly emotional, Mr Macron said the "worst had been avoided" and vowed to launch an international fundraising scheme buen rebuild the cathedral. How did the fire spread? The fire began at around GMT and quickly reached the roof of the cathedral, destroying its stained-glass windows and the wooden interior before toppling the spire.

Some firefighters worked to prevent one of the bell towers from collapsing.

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More than four hours later, fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said the main structure had been "saved and preserved" from total destruction. The massive cost of restoring Notre-Dame Sections of the cathedral were under scaffolding as part of the extensive renovations and 16 copper statues had been removed last week.

Deputy Paris Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said the building had suffered "colossal damages", and teams were working to save the cathedral's remaining artwork. We can be only horrified by what we see". How have people reacted?

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Thousands of people gathered in the streets around the cathedral, observing the flames in silence. Some could be seen openly weeping, while others sang hymns or said prayers.

Several churches around Paris rang their bells in response to the blaze, which happened as Catholics celebrate Holy Week. Because of the fire, Mr Macron cancelled a speech on TV in which he was due to address the street protests that have rocked France for months.

Visiting the scene, the president said the cathedral was a building "for all French people", including those who had never been there. Its main rival as a national symbol, the Eiffel Tower, is little more than a mo old. Notre-Dame has stood tall above Paris since the s. It has given its name to one of the country's literary masterpieces.

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The last time the cathedral suffered major damage brn during the French Revolution. It survived two world wars largely unscathed. Watching such an embodiment of the permanence of a nation burn and its spire collapse is profoundly shocking to any French person.