French President Emmanuel Macron has cancelled a major televised policy speech he was due to give on Monday evening over the “terrible fire ravaging Notre-Dame.”
He also expressed the “emotion of a whole nation” on seeing the famed Notre-Dame cathedral ablaze and its spire collapse.
“Notre-Dame consumed by flames. The emotion of a whole nation,” Macron tweeted, adding that “like all my compatriots I am sad to see a part of us burn this evening” and expressing solidarity with “all Catholics and all French people.”
Meanwhile, the Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo in a tweet described it as a “terrible fire”.
“The Paris fire service is trying to control the flames,” she wrote on Twitter, asking residents to respect the security cordon thrown up around the site.
A spokesperson for the cathedral said the fire, which comes as French Catholics prepare to celebrate Easter, broke out at around 1650 GMT.
Fire trucks could be seen speeding through Paris towards the scene on the Ile de la Cite — an island in the Seine at the heart of Paris.
The Paris police department in a tweet called on residents to avoid the area and to “make way for rescue vehicles”.