welcome to newsday. i'm kasia madera in london. the headlines. one of the world's architectural wonders, notre dame cathedral in paris, has been left in ruins by a devastating fire. these are the live pictures from the french capital, where it's been burning for nearly five hours. the blaze has destroyed much of the cathedral‘s roof. this is the moment the main spire of the 850—year—old building collapsed. i'm rico hizon in singapore. also in the programme: president macron has been to the scene. he said it was sad to see what was a part of all french people burn — but it will be rebuilt. translation: the worst has been avoided, even if the battle isn't won yet. thousands have been watching in tears and dismay as this symbol
of paris goes up in flames. live from our studios in singapore and london, this is bbc world news. it's newsday. it's midnight here in london, 7 am in singapore and one o'clock in the morning in paris, where a majorfire has engulfed one of france's most famous landmarks, the medieval cathedral of notre dame. notre dame has stood on the banks of the river seine for 850 years. and tonight, the fire continues to burn, though officials say the main structure has been saved.
the huge blaze is now increasingly under control and, importantly, as i said, the main structure has been saved. but the devastation is immense. huge crowds gathered in the streets around it, many were in tears. president macron has promised it would be rebuilt. our paris correspondent lucy williamson starts our coverage of the destruction of notre dame. it was, said the president, a part of france that burned today, a part that stood here for 800 years, through war, revolution and religious unrest. engulfed within an hour by flames. its ancient towers, beacons for both residents and tourists, crumbling into the blaze. as its current guardian watched through tears. translation: this is a national disaster, i'm very upset.
this cathedral is 850 years old and to see the building fall to pieces, the spire to fall down just as we were renovating it, all i can do is pray. 400 firefighters circled the cathedral to tackle the blaze. their crane stretching to reach its soaring roof, a complicated and fragile operation, simply dousing the medieval structure with water was not an option rescue experts said, because the building could collapse. to tackle the flames inside the building, firefighters had to climb up the towers. nothing else could reach. the flames are slowly beginning to subside but the damage is just beginning to reveal itself. the destruction of this medieval symbol of paris has left the city under a pall of shock and smoke. people packed into the streets around barely spoke. just watched.
those who found the words for their impressions, one after the other, all said the same. translation: this is awful, it's terribly sad. it is terrifying. the fire is uncontrollable. i've been here for one hour and there is nothing we can do. the deputy mayor of paris confirmed the fire started on the roof and quickly spread. the cause isn't clear. police have begun an investigation but some have questioned whether extensive renovation work currently under way here might have sparked this massive blaze. the task now is to assess the destruction inside the building. its woodwork dating from the 13th century, its statues destroyed once before by revolutionaries two centuries ago. many things are said to be irreplaceable. great art, cultural heritage, symbols of protection and hope. what words should we used when it is all of these? lucy williamson, bbc news, paris.
let's hear the latest from paris. my colleaguejoins us let's hear the latest from paris. my colleague joins us now. let's hear the latest from paris. my colleaguejoins us now. can let's hear the latest from paris. my colleague joins us now. can you bring us up—to—date with where we are now? you can probably see behind me that notre dame cathedral, that miracle of mediaeval architecture and engineering, the basic structure, the shape of it as we recognise it is still visible against the dark skyline here. you may be able to make out that water is still being poured in. thejob of the firefighters now is to make sure that the fire cannot re—establish itself somewhere in the depths of the building and to bring down the very high temperature of the stone and the woodwork inside. tomorrow comes the work of establishing what caused the fire and the first assessment of how long it will take to repair the damage and how much it will cost. it is worth bearing in
mind the nature of these buildings. notre dame took nearly 200 years to build. asi notre dame took nearly 200 years to build. as i say it was a miracle of the mediaeval era. it would not take that long to repair but it is a remarkable moment in the life of a building that tells the story of france. this is the building when the polio and was consecrated as amparo and at that point in the 19th century, notre dame was nearly 500 years old already. it is the antiquity of the building, the extent to which it is woven into the heart and story of france. the scale of the emotional impact that lucy describes in her report. it's why there are still crowds around me, even though it is iam here in paris. people are looking to see what happened to the building and what tomorrow will bring. it is an enormous moment in french history. president macron was due to make a speech tonight about
politics, a response to the yellow vest protest we have seen in france recently. he cancelled that speeding came here instead, to speak about this cathedral and what it means to the french people and what will need to be done now that it has been so badly damaged. the morning will bring new investigations as to what happened but there was a lot of concern that there were not more firefighters there early on. concern that there were not more firefighters there early onli concern that there were not more firefighters there early on. i think you will always get criticism of these kind of operations at these moments. no—one will ever feel that enough has been done stop to some extent i think that tells you how strongly attached the french are to this building. how strongly they feel that everything should have been done to save it. actual assessment of the quality of the security operations, firefighting operations, that will take some time. the immediate task here is some kind of assessment of the damage, some kind of assessment of
what you do in the short term to shore up the structure and in the longer term to repair it, to bring it back to viability, to have it again asa it back to viability, to have it again as a central place in catholic worship. it was recognised all around the world, and what it would ta ke to around the world, and what it would take to restore it to its centrality at the heart of paris and in the life of france. it is a huge historical undertaking we think an appeal will be launched tomorrow, a kind of public subscription so the french, i think, kind of public subscription so the french, ithink, will kind of public subscription so the french, i think, will be able to feel and france will be able to feel that the work of reconstruction, in principle, against tomorrow even though an enormous task clearly lies ahead as you can see when you can look at that building at the —— in the dark behind me.
-- in the dark behind me. this will intensify the fundraising efforts for restoration, won't it? when you think about its centrality in the heart of french life i am told that every distance marker in france that tells you how far to paris is measured from notre dame cathedral. that is .0 of france. the marker against which everything else is calibrated. i imagine that appeal will be an easy one to launch. and have every prospect of success. the scale of the task should not be underestimated. the fabric of notre dame, like the fabric of many mediaeval cathedrals, has been deteriorating over a very, very long time. presumably it will be found to be one of the reasons why the building itself caught fire and has been so badly damaged. the potential
for disaster has always been there in the steady deterioration over time. so an immense task lies ahead of france to restore this building because, of course, a proper restoration will need to restore the character of notre dame as it always has been and in the modern world, you know, finding people with the necessary skills in stone and woodwork to reproduce the glories of mediaeval europe will not be easy. it is an absolutely staggering scene behind you, the devastation. of course, you touched upon the yellow vest protest stop they were due to regroup this weekend following on from what emmanuel macron would have said tonight. he did not speak. you know if those protest will now, out of respect, not go ahead?” know if those protest will now, out of respect, not go ahead? i think it is far too early to think about that. i don't even think the people involved would have begun to think about that or how this connects into
their protest or how it connects into the life of france. this is standing alone is a moment of national disaster. a moment at the heart of france that will give the french the challenge of the huge task of recovery. it is something that almost stands apart from the world of day—to—day politics, however intense that has been. and emmanuel macron was due to make political speech tonight on national television. he came down here to speak to the nation instead. and i think many french people will think he captured very well the role that this building has always played in the heart of france. how important it was to save it, to avoid the worst of the damage and how important it will be in the future to rebuild it. he addressed himself to rebuild it. he addressed himself to those central themes in his speech and then the political themes that french people will be picking up that french people will be picking up tomorrow. a lot of food for
thought. many thanks there. as we continue to monitor those water pumps pumping water onto the building, they need to bring the temperature down now huge blaze that we saw raging for many, many hours now looking like it is relatively under control but as captain said, the temperature within that building, the stonework, that needs to be brought down in order to stop any potential flames restarting and that will continue well into the night. thisjust that will continue well into the night. this just after one o'clock local time and as kevin was saying, people are still there. you could hearsinging and people are still there. you could hear singing and chanting in the background as he was speaking. such a crucial part of french society. point zero of where all measurements in france are marked from. such an
important building historically and religiously for french culture and we look at it now as those water cannons continue to pump water. in the last 30 minutes we had expected macron to speak about politics and address the yellow vest movement but instead he came here to thank the firefighters for the intense work they have done. translation: what has happened tonight in paris, in notre dame, is a terrible event. i want to first think the firefighters. 500 of whom have battled the flames for several hours and will keep doing so for several more and maybe for several days. they fought the blaze with extreme courage, professionalism and determination. and i want to convey
thanks of an entire nation. thanks to their work, including support by the city of paris, and officials from notre dame, the worst has been avoided. even if the battle is not entirely won. yes, it is quite crucial to say that according to french firefighters, the stone structure is ok. it has been saved. the worst has been avoided. of course water still continues to bring the temperature down of the stone. let's speak to ali zarrin, a parisian resident who works in st michel, just a stone's throw away from notre dame. it isa it is a devastating day for paris, for france, for everything that notre dame means. absolutely. it is definitely a tragedy. we could not believe. it was seven o'clock, i was
about to emerge from the metro and i could smell, you know? it was strange. something was burning. and when we saw the flames ten minutes after, first we could not believe it because we said, you know, is a resident of the district we see five times a week notre dame in the morning, in the evening and say hello almost every day to notre dame. it is a symbol for us and it was unbelievable. people were crying in the street. i saw many people crying... but what is really amazing is that now we know that the structure is safe. we are in the heart of paris and citizens are safe, there was no loss of life.
so that is great. and there are many tourist and people from the us, from sweden, canadians... everyone started at nine, 10pm. people were offering prayers, people were singing, there is a positive vibration now and it helps is a prescient when you love your city so much. —— as a resident of paris, it helps when you love your city so much... it is hard to find the words. it is a tragedy but there is a positive vibration now. and altogether people, the people of paris and tourist, the things that we wa nt paris and tourist, the things that we want the most is to rebuild. the fire is still on, the firemen are
working on doing a greatjob. they are very brave but, still, even before the fire is out we are talking about rebuilding. tomorrow i plan to give as much as i can for the reconstruction. and renovation. for the notre dame that means so much to us. sorry to interrupt but let's look at the renovation. the possibilities of rebuilding are very much there. when it comes to refinancing this, how will this work? of course, there have been appeals to get money for restoration. the walls needed repair and that is why the roof work was already taking place. how will this work going forward and is their concern about the ownership of who will take control of this? of
course. we will take information is. tomorrow, they will receive millions of calls of people, provisions, because it is a tragedy —— parisians. to know how they control that and of course, as soon as we are sure it is under control, we are ready to pay for the rebuild. i even heard people, not parisians, not french people, ready to give money. it means so much. i mean, not only for french people, catholics, it means a lot for the world. i had people calling me from guatemala asking me if it is ok, how do i feel. that they said we will come.
we come to paris as soon as possible. we want to help. just by offering prayers, giving money, believe it or not, we will be there. that is positive, relief positive. the world is watching paris right now. a peruvian resident that works not far from notre dame. now. a peruvian resident that works not farfrom notre dame. —— parisian. i'm sure there will be lots of people wanting to contribute as they look at the devastation of this 150 year old iconic building. of course it is a catholic cathedral and important to distress this is holy week, one of the most important dates of the christian calendar. it has been so many significant moments of history. it has religious relics within it, works of art, the architecture, the gargoyles. it's so
difficult to even encompass how significant this building was. it is the .0 where measurements are taken across paris. notre dame is devastated at the stone structure is saved and as ali was saying, one expects people will be wanting to contribute as they watch a building, and iconic building that has been so devastated and we hope that it will be able to be rebuilt. you are watching live images from notre dame in the very heart of paris. let's take a look back at the cultural significance of notre dame. it has survived the french revolution and two world wars. it has towered over paris since the 13th century. the parisian skyline could look very different tomorrow — if firefighters are unable to save the cathedral‘s stone towers. notre dame sits in the very heart of paris, on the ile de la cite, an island in the middle of the river seine. the fire is believed to have started shortly before 7pm
local time, shortly after the structure closed to the public. firefighters say the blaze could be linked to ongoing restoration work. but in addition to the cathedral‘s devastated structure, france is tonight mourning a cultural and historical loss previously thought unimaginable. fergal keane reports now on the damage done to france's cultural fabric. in paris, the most desolate of skies, smoke and ruin and history billowing into the air. fire crews from across paris have come here to save whatever they possibly can, and the striking thing, standing among the crowds on the banks of the seine, isjust the silence, the quiet of people stunned by the destruction of notjust a great french cultural artefact but of one that belonged to the world. notre dame de paris offered an image
of france that seemed eternal, even if the age of kings and emperors and powerful cardinals past was long past. it was built more than 800 years ago when kings ruled by divine right, and grand and great cathedrals of stone and stained glass were designed to reach for the sublime. so this is absolutely a cultural disaster, for all of us, notjust the french, but also of european significance. paris had been the hot cauldron of gothic architecture from the 11th and 12th centuries, and it had influenced a whole lot of buildings in england, including westminster abbey, and all our subsequent cathedrals. notre dame survived europe's devastating wars of religion, and the age of revolution. it was a theatre of hubris, napoleon was crowned emperor here by the pope. at the end of world war ii, the bells of notre dame pealed the hour of liberation. its glories are a source of pride
for the people of the city. dame. i have lived here for more than 30 years, my three children were baptised here. what the germans did not destroy was ruined by stupid fire. higher and higher it goes up... the fear of devastating fire was always present. this was the mid 1930s, when the paris fire service drilled for such an eventuality, but it was a renovation in the modern age that prove catastrophic. these statues were moved for protection just last week. tonight, paris feels like a city that is mourning the loss of an essential part of itself. fergal keane, bbc news, paris.
fergal was there just talking through some religious iconography of notre dame. i also want to focus on the musical aspect of that welding. joining us is margot fassler — who is a specialist in medieval music, sacred music and theology at the university of notre dame in indiana. for those of us who are not aware of the baroque, the high masses that ta ke the baroque, the high masses that take place, talk us through what you could hear in notre dame? well, the cathedral of notre dame of course has a mediaeval acoustic and that means you have very high reverberation so it is excellent for chanting. one of the most exciting times in my life and i speak here as a mediaeval musicologist, i want to express to all of our friends in france had devastated those of us in this field are at this particular moment because the cathedral of notre dame is, in a sense, our homeland. this is where so much of
the music that is so important in our field was first composed in the late 12th and 13th century. during the very time the cathedral was being built, there was the notre dame school. particular acoustic of the cathedral was something that we could test. it was over a decade ago that a group of us gathered and we had a wonderful concert in the cathedral of music that was composed there. i wrote a book on some of the monophonic or single voice chance. —— chants. it was one of the most important times in my life as a music historian. i remember as a young graduating student when i first came to paris and saw the cathedral, i fell to my first came to paris and saw the cathedral, ifell to my knees first came to paris and saw the cathedral, i fell to my knees and wept. this is our building. those of us wept. this is our building. those of us who are in the field of music are
heartbroken. this has to do as well with those of us who are organist since the 15th century there have been great organs in the cathedral andi been great organs in the cathedral and i think that is one of the major losses. the organist who is there and in charge of the cathedral now must be totally devastated, as we all are. there was a great composer who died there and made his final note with his face on the keyboard. our hearts, minds and souls are going out to the people of france and of paris today. we can hear the passion in your voice. what have we lost? well, the art historians can
tell you what we have lost better than i can. i keep thinking of those windows. you know, the cathedral was begun by louis the seventh and i wrote a book on the cathedral and his wife and our video is featured there at the sculpture. this history begins right in the 11 60s and the major part of the cathedral took about 100 years to be built. so this is the very time when it was that measures the —— musicians were creating so much new music for that particular cathedral which was dedicated to the assumption of the virgin mary, that is august 15. and louis the seventh had not been able to produce a male heir and when he did, it was philip augustus. it was a celebration of his own mail heir
to have this monument, —— male heir. so much of the music is written for the virgin mary that we have studied and it was there at the cathedral of notre dame that musicians learned how to write down precise rhythms for music, for musical repertory. our musical guilt is very much tied to the innovations that the composers of the notre dame school in the late 12th and 13th centuries lead and it is music that went throughout all of europe so for those of us who studied european music, it's absolutely crucial. we find evidence of it in scotland, we find evidence of it in scotland, we find it in germany, defined fragments of this particular notation going out throughout europe and the music is glorious, of
course, and so those of us who studied music history, that's one of the things that we celebrate with our students and that we concentrate on and we have always had that building where we can turn to it and think about its acoustics and think about the ways in which mediaeval music fit into it. even though there have been many cheese and — make changes over time, we all know that. but still, to have it there has meant so much to us. so i pray that it's going to be restored and i'm so thankful that the walls still stand. margot fassler, thank you so much for taking us through this musical journey of notre dame. we do appreciate your expertise of bringing us an insight into another aspect of this building that potentially so few of us possibly would have recognised given that we look at it, we talk about the eye cog — make iconography, the art but
the music as well. we are just now getting images from the bbc from within notre dame. these are some of the first images coming into us here in the newsroom from within we are looking now at the devastation that has taken place. bearing in mind this cathedral has been burning, the fla mes this cathedral has been burning, the flames blazing, four hours. we are now looking at some of the devastation that has taken place and it is hard to believe that this has been taking place right in the centre of paris within notre dame. a place that is notjust important historically, but religiously and also musically as we were hearing there. this building means so much in so many ways to so many different people. these are the first images that we are seeing of the devastation from within notre dame.