World leaders have been reacting with horror to the devastating fire which has ravaged Paris’ iconic Notre Dame cathedral and caused part of the 800-year-old beloved Gothic structure to collapse.
The building, one of the most important for Christians worldwide, and a major part of France’s cultural heritage, was heavily damaged by the quick-spreading fire on Monday. The fate of the iconic structure is hanging in the balance as firefighters have warned that they are “not sure” whether the fire can be contained.
The spire and roof of the landmark church have already crumbled after being engulfed in the flames, which quickly spread to one of the rectangular towers of the historic building as tourists and Parisians looked on in dismay.
US President Donald Trump, reacting on Twitter, said it was “horrible to watch” the church burn and suggested that “flying water tankers” could be used to put it out. First Lady Melania Trump also offered sympathies, saying her “heart breaks” for the people of France.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
My heart breaks for the people of Paris after seeing the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. Praying for everyone’s safety.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) April 15, 2019
The fire is a “catastrophe” for France and all of Europe, the flames ravaging “850 years of history, architecture, painting and sculpture,” tweeted Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
L’incendie de Notre Dame est une catastrophe pour la France et pour l’Europe. Les flammes ravagent 850 ans d’histoire, d’architrecture, de peinture et de sculpture. Cela va être difficile à oublier. La France peut compter sur nous pour récuperer la grandeur de son patrimoine.
— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) April 15, 2019
UK Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted that her thoughts “are with the people of France” and the emergency services still fighting the “terrible blaze,” while German chancellor Angela Merkel said through a spokesperson that she was “deeply saddened” by the fire and was thinking of “our French friends.”
My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral.
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) April 15, 2019
In a statement, the Vatican said the fire had caused “shock and sadness” and that it was praying for the firefighters. “We express our closeness to French Catholics and the population of Paris and we ensure them of our prayers,” Vatican spokesperson Alessandro Gisotti said.
Le Saint-Siège a appris avec incrédulité et tristesse la nouvelle du terrible incendie qui a ravagé la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, symbole de la chrétienté, en France et dans le monde.
— Alessandro Gisotti (@AGisotti) April 15, 2019
Breaking: #Vatican spokesman @AGisotti says Holy See is experiencing “shock and sadness” over devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in France. “We express our closeness to French Catholics and the population of Paris and we ensure them of our prayers,” he states.
— Joshua McElwee (@joshjmac) April 15, 2019
US Secretary of State Mike Pence also tweeted to say it was “heartbreaking to see a house of God in flames” and offered prayers for firefighters and the people of Paris, while former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said the cathedral was “a symbol of our ability as human beings to unite for a higher purpose.”
Notre Dame is an iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world – and it is heartbreaking to see a house of God in flames. Our thoughts and prayers are with the firefighters on the scene and all the people of Paris. https://t.co/5Pecbf02em
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) April 15, 2019
My heart goes out to Paris. Notre Dame is a symbol of our ability as human beings to unite for a higher purpose—to build breathtaking spaces for worship that no one person could have built on their own. I wish France strength and shared purpose as they grieve and rebuild.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 15, 2019
Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said his country was ready to help their neighbors and send his condolences over the “terrifying fire” at the cathedral.
The blaze at the cathedral has caused a “great sorrow” within the Orthodox Church, spokesman of the Moscow Patriarchate, Hieromonk Stephan told RIA Novosti.
“It’s certainly a tragedy for all the Christians and everyone who values the cultural meaning of the cathedral,” he said. “Yet besides the cultural value, we must remember that the Crown of Thorns, the greatest relic for all Christians, is kept there. We pray that it will stay safe and that God won’t allow human deaths amid this terrible event.”
The cause of the fire has not yet been confirmed, but so far it is thought to be related to recently begun renovations on the structure which was in major need of repairs. Restoration following the fire could take at least ten years, a curators’ representative said.
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