IN PICTURES: How Notre-Dame went from proud icon to charred shell

As the terrible night wore on, dozens of photographers from around the globe descended on Paris to photograph the gradual destruction of Notre-Dame. Here are some of their most striking images.

IN PICTURES: How Notre-Dame went from proud icon to charred shell
Notre-Dame cathedral ablaze. All photos: AFP

Paris' iconic Notre-Dame cathedral was severely damaged after being engulfed in flames on Monday night.

The fire broke out at around 7pm local time and quickly spread through the wooden roof.

Soon smoke could be seen billowing out of the roof of the building in central Paris.

The French Ministry of the Interior also tweeted drone footage of the firefighting effort.

Around 400 firefighters were quickly at the scene battling the raging inferno that had taken hold of the building.

As the wooden roof was totally engulfed, the cathedral's gothic spire teetered and then finally toppled, to cries of shock and horror from onlookers.

As the night wore on, hundreds of both tourists and locals travelled to the site to witness the terrible spectacle for themselves.

Soon the smoke and flames leaping into the air could be seen from across Paris.

As darkness fell firefighters continued to battle the flames.

The fire was finally declared extinguished at around 4am.

Pictures later released of the inside of the building showed a gutted and charred interior, but with a miraculously intact cross.

As dawn broke, firefighters were still damping down but the fire was finally declared extinguished.

Now begins the enormous task of sifting through the ruins, ascertaining the cause and then beginning to rebuild the 850-year-old landmark.

This video from Paris firefighters offers a good timeline of what happened.




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Notre-Dame restoration work begins as Paris cathedral on track to reopen in 2024

France's Notre-Dame cathedral is finally ready to undergo restoration work more than two years after a blaze ravaged the heritage landmark, and remains on course to reopen in 2024, authorities said Saturday, following months of painstaking work to secure the building.

Notre-Dame restoration work begins as Paris cathedral on track to reopen in 2024

The great mediaeval edifice survived the inferno on April 15th, 2019, but the spire collapsed and much of the roof was destroyed.

The focus until now had been on making the cathedral safe before restoration work could begin, which included the strenuous task of removing 40,000 pieces of scaffolding that were damaged in the blaze.

“The cathedral stands solid on its pillars, its walls are solid, everything is holding together,” said Jean-Louis Georgelin, head of the public entity tasked with rebuilding the cathedral.

Scaffolding in the interior of the building as the restoration phase begins. Photo by Thomas SAMSON / POOL / AFP

“We are determined to win this battle of 2024, to reopen our cathedral in 2024. It will be France’s honour to do so and we will do so because we are all united on this goal.”

The aim is to celebrate the first full service in the cathedral on April 16th, 2024 – five years after the fire – despite delays caused by the pandemic and the lead that spread during the blaze.

The Notre-Dame spire, a later addition to the medieval building, was completely destroyed in the blaze. Photos by AFP

Authorities will now call for tenders to select the companies to carry out the restoration work.

The cathedral’s interior walls and floors will also undergo “a thorough cleaning process” later this month.

Notre-Dame’s famous Grand Organ is already being restored, with its 8,000 pipes dismantled and sent to organ builders all over France.

It is expected to be put together again in October 2023, said Georgelin, the former head of France’s armed forces who was appointed by President Emmanuel Macron to oversee rebuilding efforts.