Fire breaks out at Notre Dame cathedral

April 15, 2019

A "terrible" fire has broken out at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

Plumes of smoke poured from one of the historic landmark's steeples, as flames leapt out besides its two bell towers, according to a witness.

A city hall spokesman said the area was being cleared, while the fire department added a major operation was under way.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo urged the public to "respect the security perimeter" around the cathedral while emergency services tackle the "terrible fire".

French President Emmanuel Macron has cancelled a planned television speech to the nation in light of the fire.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze.

Local media reported that police were treating the incident as an accident.

The cathedral dates back to the 12th century and is famous for featuring in Victor Hugo's classic novel the Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

It attracts millions of tourists every year.

Notre-Dame was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding, while bronze statues were removed last week for works.

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