Notre Dame fire: World reaction


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May have led the world reaction to the fire that is gutting Paris' world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral. 

Merkel called the cathedral a "symbol of France and our European culture".

"My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame Cathedral". May wrote on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron cancelled a major televised speech to head to the scene.

"Our Lady of Paris (Notre-Dame de Paris) in flames. Emotion of a whole nation. Thoughts for all Catholics and for all French," he said.

"Like all our countrymen, I'm sad tonight to see this part of us burn."

US President Donald Trump said: "So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!"

However, French fire authorities have discounted this idea, saying it would destroy the building.

The Vatican said the blaze had caused "shock and sadness" and said it was praying for the firefighters.

A French firefighter says the structure of the cathedral has been saved from total destruction.

And Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said firefighters were optimistic they could salvage its main towers from the flames.

The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts millions of tourists every year.

It is a focal point for French Roman Catholics who like Christians around the world are celebrating Holy Week, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus.