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Photos: Paris' centuries old Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed by flames

As Paris' famous Notre Dame cathedral burned overnight, New Zealand time, crowds of Parisians and visitors alike couldn't help but stop and stare.

Evening falls as firefighters tackle the blaze at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
Evening falls as firefighters tackle the blaze at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Source: Associated Press

Associated Press photographers were at the scene, capturing remarkable and poignant images of France losing one of its best-known landmarks.

Smoke fills the air over Paris as the Notre Dame cathedral burns.
Smoke fills the air over Paris as the Notre Dame cathedral burns. Source: Associated Press

The smoke from the could be seen across the city, stretching in a long trail towards another famous landmark - the Eiffel Tower.

Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as night falls, as glowing embers light the sky.
Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as night falls, as glowing embers light the sky. Source: Associated Press

The cathedral was built centuries ago, somewhere between 1163 and 1365.

Smoke billows from the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
Smoke billows from the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Source: Associated Press

It had recently begun renovations and restoration work, with the scaffolding visible in some of the photos.

Firefighters blast the Notre Dame cathedral fire with jets of water from crane units.
Firefighters blast the Notre Dame cathedral fire with jets of water from crane units. Source: Associated Press

The church was considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, and was known for its intricate decorations.

A crowd of people watches in horror as the Notre Dame cathedral burns.
A crowd of people watches in horror as the Notre Dame cathedral burns. Source: Associated Press

Many people in the crowd struggled to control their tears, with reports from some at the scene saying bottles of wine were being passed around - a very French display of grief.

A firefighter gestures to a colleague as he balances on an aerial firefighting crane at the Notre Dame cathedral.
A firefighter gestures to a colleague as he balances on an aerial firefighting crane at the Notre Dame cathedral. Source: Associated Press

Officials have said firefighters may not be able to extinguish the fire, and that the entire cathedral could be lost.

People stand on the banks of the river Seine, watching as the beloved Notre Dame cathedral burns.
People stand on the banks of the river Seine, watching as the beloved Notre Dame cathedral burns. Source: Associated Press


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