Pictures showing Notre Dame cathedral this morning have revealed the scale of destruction caused by the devastating blaze.
The catastrophic fire in Paris has left a nation mourning the destruction of its 850-year-old cultural and historic “epicentre” and sent shockwaves around the world.
Hundreds of firefighters tackled the blaze through the night, battling to stop it wreaking complete destruction of the treasured facade after flames torched the roof, sending its spire crashing to the ground before crowds of horrified Parisians.
Visiting the scene on Monday night, French president Emmanuel Macron said a national subscription would be launched to rebuild the national monument.
It was reported that billionaire French fashion mogul Francois-Henri Pinault had pledged 100 million euros (£86 million) towards the effort.
“Notre Dame is our history, our imagination, where we’ve lived all our great moments, and is the epicentre of our lives,” Mr Macron said.
One powerful image released this morning showed the imposing crucifix above the altar still intact.
The first harrowing images from within the fire-ravaged cathedral began to emerge as firefighters brought the blaze under control.
A smouldering pile of what appeared to be the charred remains of the roof and spire lay smoking in front of the altar, while a cross that had escaped destruction glowed from within the gloom.
Gilded candlesticks, artworks and furnishings were among the treasures seen being rushed from the cathedral by a “human chain” before being bundled into trucks by police officers.
Some of the cathedral’s most precious objects, including a relic purported to be the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ on the cross, were whisked away to a secure facility.
Both the bell towers were saved and they were also hopes the stain-glassed windows had survived the fire.
But as the blaze ravaged the historic cathedral in the space of an hour, the historic spire and tower were destroyed.
Emergency services were trying to salvage the art and other priceless pieces stored inside. One fireman has been seriously injured fighting the flames.
A cathedral spokesman said the entire wooden interior was likely to be destroyed.
What caused it?
Officials said the fire may be linked to renovation work at one of the world's most famous tourist attractions.
The Paris prosecutors’ office said police will carry out an investigation into “involuntary destruction caused by fire”, indicating authorities are treating the blaze as a tragic accident for now.
Arson, including possible terror-related motives, was earlier ruled out.
At present there are no reported casualties.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Paris as firefighters attempted to tackle the flames.
Paris prosecutors opened an investigation into the blaze as the fire was still burning out of control, and the authorities said no-one had been hurt.
France in mourning
Franck Riester, the French culture minister, tweeted that “Major parts of the treasure #NotreDame are now safe at the Paris City Hall”.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo added: “The Crown of thorns, the tunic of Saint Louis and several other major works are now in a safe place.”
A comment from the Louvre Museum’s Twitter account said: “The fire which has struck Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a tragedy for World Heritage.
“The Louvre expresses its deepest admiration and solidarity with those who are currently battling the flames.”
— Bob le Centriste (@BobLeCentriste) April 15, 2019
Read more from Yahoo News UK:
Reaction from around the world
Concerns over the scale of the damage to Notre Dame came as expressions of grief were sent to Paris from around the world.
Theresa May said: “My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre Dame cathedral.”
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tweeted: “Tonight we pray for the firefighters tackling the tragic #NotreDame fire – and for everyone in France and beyond who watches and weeps for this beautiful, sacred place where millions have met with Jesus Christ. Nous sommes avec vous.”
There were also messages of support from US president Donald Trump, former leaders Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and a stream of world leaders.
Mr Trump suggested "perhaps flying water tankers" could be used to extinguish the fire.
European Parliament Brexit official Guy Verhofstadt has said he is "so sad" to see "a masterpiece of European gothic is at risk of being destroyed".
He tweeted: "So sad to see the images of the burning #NotreDameDeParis.
"I hope that the Paris fire brigade will get the fire under control as soon as possible.
"My thoughts are with the people of France as a masterpiece of European gothic is at risk of being destroyed."
Last year, the Catholic Church in France launched an urgent appeal for funds to save the cathedral, which was starting to crumble.
The building, one of the most recognisable churches in the world, is 850 years old and is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.
TV historian Dan Snow cited other damaging fires on monuments as evidence that Notre Dame “will rise again”.
He tweeted: “It’s overwhelming but remember that York Minster and Hampton Court burned in the 80s, Windsor Castle in the 90s and Cutty Sark in the 00s. Dresden’s Frauenkirche, the Catherine Palace…
“What we build, we can rebuild. Their essence endures.
“#NotreDame will rise again.”
The cathedral receives around 12 million visitors each year, making it the most visited monument in Paris.
It took around 200 years to build and was started under the reign of King Louis VII in 1160.