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Catastrophe of Notre-Dame: The heart of the city is on fire

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Above the cathedral of Notre-Dame the sky glows red, orange, suddenly green-yellow clouds of smoke rise up. The flames blaze through the airy spire towering into the sky of Paris, filigree like a stone top, a few minutes later he breaks away and collapses. Nothing is left of it.

On the quays of the Seine are Parisians and tourists, stunned they look in the direction of the burning cathedral. Some are in tears, others just speechless. Despite the many people, there is a strange silence. Many who arrive and see the scene for the first time for the first time hold their hand in horror at the mouth.

Tourists film the spectacle, which looks like a catastrophe film from a distance, so unbelievable is the picture that presents itself to them. An inferno. The extinguishing jets look as if they come from a tap, given the size of the flames. A sense of powerlessness is spreading that this fire can not be stopped faster.

"The firefighting will take days"

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The historic and world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral is on fire. The Paris Fire Department works under pressure to control the flames. Hartmut Ziebs, President of the German Fire Brigade Association, explains how difficult the fire extinguishing work is.

The firefighters have cordoned off the Ile de la Cité, the Seine Island, on which the cathedral is located. An elderly man stands stunned at the barrier: "They will not let me go home. My wife had to evacuate our flat, which is right across the street. "Others recall that it is the beginning of Holy Week.

The fire is probably just before 19 clock broke out in the roof. The latter was scaffolded for several weeks for renovations. Large sculptures were recently dismantled and transported by helicopter to be restored. The attic, which was built in the 13th century, was built from over 1300 oaks, a whole forest, if you like, which gave it exactly these nicknames, "the forest".

In the evening, it was likely that the towering, heavy-toned roof of the cathedral, which collapsed on its collapse, also shattered the underlying nave. British author Ken Follet, who has written entire books on the art of cathedral construction, said in an interview with BBC World that he hopes that at least the famous twin towers can be saved. In addition, it was difficult for him to imagine that a small spark could cause this big fire.

"Catastrophe of historical dimensions"

The major international TV stations tossed their programs and sent from the early evening live from the center of Paris. The global US news channel CNN spoke of a "catastrophe of historical dimensions". The moderators and experts of the station expressed doubts whether the reaction of the fire-brigade was appropriate. They asked, for example, why helicopters were not used that could have been fed with extinguishing water from the Seine. Even US President Trump asked via Twitter afterwards.

In fact, the firefighting aircraft are stationed in southern France. They would have needed two hours to Paris and could not take extinguishing water in the Seine, because the distance between the bridges is too small.

"Terrible", "unbelievable", "a terrible catastrophe", "a sad moment in the history of France": Whatever you ask, people use the same terms to describe their feelings. Others simply miss the words. Silently, they stare at the flames that continue to eat. Notre-Dame may be a stronghold of Christianity, it is also a symbol of the city of Paris, a stone witness to the history of France. All distances in France are measured from the church forecourt of the gothic cathedral, which already suggests that the church is perceived not only as the heart of Paris, but of the whole country.

Notre-Dame: Most visited monument in France

The Paris Cathedral, built between the 12th and 14th centuries, is the most visited monument in France. 30,000 people visit the church daily, almost 14 million a year.

Stéphane Bern referred to the fire as "a national drama, a bereavement", a television presenter famous in France, who has been involved in the preservation of monuments for years, his voice trembling and fighting tears. André Finot, a spokesman for the parish, described how shortly before 19:00 the alarm was sounded and the first about 1,500 visitors were evacuated from the church, which were in the church at that time.

French President Emmanuel Macron had planned to announce a policy change after the yellow-West crisis that evening. He has canceled his address to the nation and gone to the scene of the flames. Shortly before he wrote on the short message service Twitter: "Like all fellow citizens, I'm sad this evening to see this part of us in flames."

Read all new developments here in the Liveticker

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