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World leaders react to devastating Notre Dame fire in Paris

The Guardian logo The Guardian 2 days ago Mattha Busby
a city with smoke coming out of it: Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was gutted by fire on Monday. © EPA Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was gutted by fire on Monday.

As Notre Dame burned, world leaders, celebrities and millions of people around the world publicly expressed their sorrow at the damage wrought by the fire and expressed solidarity with the French people at the devastation of a national symbol.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said he was “sad to see this part of us burn”, later tweeting that the cathedral would be rebuilt and announcing an international fundraising campaign to pay for reconstruction.

Video: Notre Dame fire: Politicians around the world react to the blaze (Press Association)

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“It’s part of our French destiny,” he said. “Tomorrow a national fund will be launched, and well beyond our borders.”

His predecessor as president, François Hollande, declared: “Notre Dame is our common heritage, it’s a wound to see her ravaged by the flames. Respect to the firefighters who are working to extinguish the fire.”

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks as Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, stand near the Notre Dame Cathedral where a fire burns in Paris, France, April 15, 2019.   REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool © Thomson Reuters French President Emmanuel Macron speaks as Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, stand near the Notre Dame Cathedral where a fire burns in Paris, France, April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool

Donald Trump tweeted: “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!” The US president later tweeted: “God bless the people of France!” after his firefighting suggestion appeared to be directly dismissed by French authorities.

Trump’s former Democrat rival in the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton, tweeted: “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.”

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Gallery: Notre-Dame Cathedral on fire (Reuters)

The former US president Barack Obama tweeted a photo of himself, his wife and his daughters inside the gothic landmark during a visit to Paris, along with the message: “Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief,” he said. “It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can.”

Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, said it was “heartbreaking to see a house of God in flames”, describing the cathedral as “an iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world”.

The British prime minister, Theresa May, tweeted that her thoughts were with the people of France and the emergency services “who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre Dame Cathedral”.

The archbishop of Canterbury said he was praying for “the firefighters tackling the tragic Notre Dame fire”. Justin Welby tweeted that he was also praying “for everyone in France and beyond who watches and weeps for this beautiful, sacred place where millions have met with Jesus Christ”.

The German chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman wrote on Twitter: “Fluctuat nec mergitur”, a Latin phrase roughly meaning “she is tossed by the waves but does not sink” which has been used as the motto of Paris since the 14th century, when Notre Dame was completed.

The Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has written on Twitter: “I fondly remember standing outside Notre Dame with Jen [his wife] almost 30 years ago”. He said his thoughts were with people in France, “They will rebuild as Parisians always do.”

President of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said our Lady of Paris “belongs to the whole of mankind”, describing the fire as a “horror” of which “Notre-Dame de Paris is the prey”.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker takes part in the European Commission's weekly college meeting in Brussels, Belgium, April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman © Thomson Reuters European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker takes part in the European Commission's weekly college meeting in Brussels, Belgium, April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

European parliament chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said he was “so sad” to see destruction. He tweeted: “My thoughts are with the people of France as a masterpiece of European gothic is at risk of being destroyed.”

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