Crowds of stunned Parisians and tourists — some crying, others offering prayers — watched on in horror in central Paris on Monday evening as flames engulfed the Notre-Dame cathedral.
Gasps and cries of “Oh my god” erupted at 7:50 pm (1750 GMT) when the top portion of the church’s spire came crashing down into an inferno that has spread to the entire roof.
More gasps came a few seconds later when the rest of the spire collapsed, caught on the cameras of thousands of mobile phones.
“Paris is disfigured. The city will never be like it was before,” said Philippe, a communications worker in his mid-30s, who had biked over after being alerted of the fire by a friend.
“It’s a tragedy,” he added. “If you pray, now is the time to pray.”
Police were attempting to clear pedestrians away from the two islands in the river Seine, including the Ile de la Cite which houses the soaring Gothic church, one of Europe’s best known landmarks.
But throngs of onlookers kept trying to approach, snarling traffic as they massed on the stone bridges leading to the islands.
Another woman passed by, tears running from behind her glasses, too overwhelmed to speak to reporters.
“It’s finished, we’ll never be able to see it again,” said Jerome Fautrey, a 37-year-old who had come to watch.
“Now we need to know how this happened — with everything that’s going on in the world, why Notre-Dame? Maybe it’s a message from on high,” he said.
One police officer, arriving on one of the bridges, turned up to gape, saying “Oh my god.”
“It’s incredible, our history is going up in smoke,” said Benoit, 42, who arrived on the scene by bike.
Sailing among the stars: Here’s how photons could revolutionize space flight
A few days from now, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will lift off from Florida, carrying a satellite the size of a loaf of bread with nothing to power it but a huge polyester "solar sail."
It's been the stuff of scientists' dreams for decades but has only very recently become a reality.
The idea might sounds crazy: propelling a craft through the vacuum of space with no engine, no fuel, and no solar panels, but instead harnessing the momentum of packets of light energy known as photons -- in this case from our Sun.
The spacecraft to be launched on Monday, called LightSail 2, was developed by the Planetary Society, a US organization that promotes space exploration which was co-founded by the legendary astronomer Carl Sagan in 1980.
Russians to prod Putin on poverty and his personal life as his ratings tank
Russians are set to ask President Vladimir Putin about growing poverty at home and tensions abroad during an annual televised phone-in Thursday, which comes following a fall in his approval ratings.
The leader is also likely to face a degree of grilling on his personal life, according to questions submitted by the public online ahead of the live show.
Set to be held for the 17th time since Putin came to power in 1999, the show starts at 0900 GMT and usually lasts several hours.
Ahead of the carefully choreographed show, more than one million questions had been submitted, organisers told Russian news agencies.
Trump could turn on Hope Hicks just like Michael Cohen: Trump family biographer warns
Trump family biographer Emily Jane Fox explained that she didn't think that the president would turn on long-time aide Hope Hicks, but then again, it was the same thought about Michael Cohen as well.
In a panel discussion about Hicks' testimony during MSNBC's Brian Williams' Wednesday show, Fox recalled that Micahel Cohen once said that he would take a bullet for the president. Once it appeared that Trump would throw him under the bus, Cohen began looking for a way out.
The same scenario seems to be happening with Hicks now.
"She works at new Fox, which is a company run by a Murdoch son," Fox said. "It's a company that's brand new. She's the head of communications there. And there are shareholders who would take issue with the fact that a senior member of this company is being put in this situation and being thrust on the world stage."