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A 'terrible catastrophe': The world reacts to the burning of Notre Dame

‘I would like to express the feelings of solidarity of the Irish people with the people of France.’

France Notre Dame Fire Source: AP/PA Images

REACTION HAS POURED in from around the world following the devastating fire at Notre Dame cathedral this evening. 

The iconic building was undergoing renovations to a tune of €6 million when a fire broke out shortly after 7pm local time. 

Many took to social media to express their sadness as events unfolded with figures including President Michael D. Higgins, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Theresa May speaking of the “terrible” situation. 

“As president of Ireland, I would like to express the feelings of solidarity of the Irish people with the people of France, at the catastrophic damage to one of the most iconic buildings in Europe,” Higgins said. 

“A building which the people of Paris have shared with millions from all over the world, as part of a shared global cultural heritage.

“The Notre Dame Cathedral has suffered many instances of catastrophic damage over the centuries, and it is my hope that it will survive this latest terrible catastrophe,” he added.

Varadkar expressed his sadness at the thought of Parisiens “watching history burning”.

May took took to Twitter to say: “My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral.”

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London also took to Twitter: “Heartbreaking scenes of Notre Dame cathedral in flames. London stands in sorrow with Paris today, and in friendship always.”

Ireland’s own foreign minister and Tánaiste, Simon Coveney commented saying “such shocking and sad images from #Paris”. 

Hillary Clinton said her “heart goes out to Paris” adding she “wished France strength and shared purpose as they grieve and rebuild”. 

France’s own president Emanuel Macron arrived at the scene of the fire shortly after the blaze broke out.

On twitter, he tweeted: “Our Lady of Paris is in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thoughts for all Catholics and for all the French, like all out countrymen, I’m sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”

Onlookers watched as the building remained engulfed in flames, with parts of the roof – including the iconic spire of the cathedral – collapsing before darkness began to fall on Paris.

Others, who had gathered a short distance from the flames, began to sing a version of Ave Maria while firefighters continued efforts to bring the fire under control. 

Work first began on Notre Dame in 1163 with the original structure finally completed nearly 200 years later in 1345. 

In a message, the Archbishop of Paris said: “the firefighters are still fighting to save the towers of Notre-Dame de Paris [...] If you wish, you can ring the bells of your church to invite prayer.”

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