Emmanuel Macron is launching a fund-raising campaign to rebuild Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral as the national landmark continued to smoulder on Tuesday morning after being devastated by an inferno.
The morning after: Pictures emerge of the scale of the damage to Notre-Dame cathedral after the fire
Hundreds of firefighters tackled the historic blaze through the night,battling to stop it wreaking complete destruction of the treasured facade after flames torched the roof, sending its spire crashing to the ground before crowds of horrified Parisians.
Meanwhile, teams raced to recover what treasures they could from the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece, which housed priceless artefacts and relics of huge religious and international significance.
The blaze, which broke out as the last crowds of tourists ended visits at around 6pm BST (7pm local time), was finally declared to be "completely under control" nearly nine hours later.
"The fire is under control but not totally extinguished," French junior interior minister Laurent Nunez said early on Tuesday.
Attention is beginning to turn to what may have caused the landmark, part of which was being restored, to fall victim to such a disaster.
The cause of the fire was still not known and authorities were continuing their probe into how it started, Mr Nunez said.
The Paris prosecutors' office said police would carry out an investigation into "involuntary destruction caused by fire", indicating authorities are treating the blaze as a tragic accident for now. Arson, including possible terror-related motives, was earlier ruled out.
Visiting the scene on Monday night, Mr Macron said a national subscription would be launched to rebuild the national monument.
It was reported by AFP that billionaire French fashion mogul Francois-Henri Pinault had pledged €100 million (£86 million) towards the effort.
"Notre Dame is our history, our imagination, where we've lived all our great moments, and is the epicentre of our lives," Mr Macron said.
The first harrowing images from within the fire-ravaged cathedral began to emerge as firefighters brought the blaze under control.
A smouldering pile of what appeared to be the charred remains of the roof and spire lay smoking in front of the altar, while a cross that had escaped destruction glowed from within the gloom.
Telegraph View: Notre-Dame can and must rise again
here are few more iconic buildings in the world than the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. The fire that has ripped through the great building is not just a tragedy for France but for the whole of Europe. The church, with its familiar double towers and spire, now sadly destroyed, is a masterpiece of European medieval Gothic architecture, though modified on many occasions down the centuries. It is also a centre for worship for the Catholic faith filled with priceless artefacts, paintings and holy relics, including a piece of the true cross.
These past few years have been difficult for France. The spate of terror attacks two years ago in Paris, Nice and other cities left scores dead and plunged the country into a state of emergency. In recent weeks, the centre of the French capital has been ravaged by street protests staged by the so-called gilets jaunes movement. Each weekend they have smashed up the centre of the city around the Champs Elysee, wrecking cars and shops.
President Emmanuel Macron was due last night to address the French people on the outcome of the national debate he launched to address voters’ concerns. Instead, he was on his way to witness his country’s most cherished building engulfed in flames.
Here in the UK we have seen Windsor Castle gutted by fire and parts of Hampton Court and York Minster badly damaged. As with Notre-Dame they happened while repair work was under way. Mercifully, those buildings were rebuilt though the damage to Notre-Dame may be more extensive.
This is a dreadful moment for France and its people. We share their pain. Notre-Dame can and must rise again