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Despite fire, Notre Dame cross and altar still standing

Fire out at Notre Dame Cathedral
Fire extinguished at Notre Dame Cathedral as recovery process begins 07:13

Photos from inside Notre Dame cathedral showed its cross and altar apparently still intact even after a devastating fire ravaged the 850-year-old landmark in Paris. Firefighters officially extinguished the blaze early Tuesday after a 12-hour battle with the flames.

The images captured by Reuters' Philippe Wojazer showed the church's interior as debris was still smoldering early Tuesday. In one of the pictures, smoke was rising around the altar, but the stonework looked to be relatively intact.

Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris
Photo shows smoke rising around the altar in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral. Reuters

The giant white cross behind the altar also appeared to be relatively unscathed even though much of the church was reduced to rubble and ashes.

Another photo shows portions of the intricately carved vaulted ceiling collapsed as flames continued to burn above.

Flames are seen as the interior continues to burn inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
Flames and smoke seen as the interior burned inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Reuters

The cause of the fire remains unclear, but Parisian officials don't currently suspect terrorism or arson. Teams who had already been inside the charred building had found nothing to suggest the blaze had been started deliberately. The fire is believed to have begun in the attic or roof of the ancient building, according to Paris' public prosecutor.

The cathedral, which was currently undergoing $6.8 million renovation, receives nearly 13 million visitors a year and is home to exquisite religious artifacts, paintings, sculptures and other priceless works of art. A chaplain and a French official were among a group of people who formed a human chain to save many of the church's holy relics such as the Crown of Thorns believed the be worn by Jesus Christ.

Firefighters also managed to save the cathedral's landmark rectangular towers from the blaze, but a Paris deputy mayor, Emmanuel Gregoire, said the cathedral had suffered "colossal damages." French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the landmark.

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