Fire has torn through the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Firefighters continue to battle a gigantic blaze that has torn through the spire and roof of the iconic 12th century Notre-Dame in Paris, but already the world is mourning.
The iconic Gothic building in central Paris had been undergoing renovation when the fire broke out, only minutes after the last tourist left.
Firefighters are working to contain the fire as teams are trying to cool the temperature inside the cathedral and save the artwork stored inside the building.
While the fire has toppled the cathedral's spire and roof, French firefighters say the main structure, including its two bell towers, have been "saved and preserved".
"We can now say that the structure of Notre-Dame has been saved from total destruction," an official said.
Cathedral spokesman Andre Finot said the building had sustained “colossal damage”.
France's civil security agency said "all means" except for water-dropping aircraft were deployed to tackle the blaze.
This tactic is considered unsuitable for fires like the one at Notre-Dame because dumping water on the building could cause the whole structure to collapse.
French President Emmanuel Macron is treating the fire as a national emergency.
The world mourns
Mr Macron said the whole nation was moved.
“Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn,” he tweeted.
Foreign leaders have also sent messages of support.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said their thoughts were with the French people, calling the cathedral a “symbol of France and our European culture”.
British Prime Minister Theresa May also expressed shock.
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wished France strength, saying her heart went out to Paris.
Former US President Barack Obama also sent his well-wishes.
Australian politicians also expressed their sadness over the devastating blaze.
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison sent his support to France.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it was a sad day for Paris, France and people across the world.
"Notre Dame brought so much joy to so many souls," he wrote on Twitter.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull also expressed his sympathies, and called on both his successor and Mr Shorten to establish a fund to support the restoration of the church.
The Vatican said the blaze had caused “shock and sadness” and said it was praying for the firefighters.
Westminster Abbey also tweeted it’s 'devastated' by news of the fire.
UNESCO said in a tweet it was “closely monitoring the situation and is standing by France’s side to safeguard and restore this invaluable heritage”.
Others have taken to instagram to express sadness over the blaze.
Why has the fire not been put out?
A US-based firefighter Gregg Favre has put out a tweet thread discussing the difficulty that fire crews in Paris are most likely experiencing.
Mr Favre says it would be hard for firefighters working from inside the cathedral, as there’s a risk of falling roofing timber.
He explained the historical building, which is designed to be "open and airy" for Sunday mass has no shortage of oxygen which would fuel the fire.