Firefighters battling a fire that has engulfed the historic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris have said the next hour is crucial.
Emergency services workers fighting to put the flames out are unsure if they will be able to save the building, which has now been alight for several hours.
Already the fire has toppled the 90m spire, which was built in the 1800s from lead and wood.
“We are not sure we are capable of stopping the spreading to Notre Dame’s second tower and belfry,” said Jean-Claude Gallet, the most senior fire fighter in Paris.
“If it collapses, you can imagine how important the damage will be.”
Messages of solidarity and support are pouring in from across the world, urging the fire fighters on while imploring them to keep safe.
A statement from the Vatican read: “The terrible news of the fire that has devastated the cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world, was received in the Holy See with shock and sadness.
“We express our closeness with French Catholics and with the Parisian population. We pray for the firefighters and for all those who are trying their best to tackle this dramatic situation.”
Despite the work of fire fighters the flames have spread to one of Notre Dame’s towers.
The archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, tweeted: “The firefighters are still fighting to save the towers of Notre-Dame de Paris. The frame, the roof and the spire are consumed.
“Let us pray. If you wish, you can ring the bells of your churches to invite prayer.”