As thousands of horrified Parisians and tourists looked on, a piece of the world’s history vanished in front of their eyes when the main spire of Notre Dame went down in flames amid the massive fire enveloping the cathedral.
The moment was captured in all its intensity in a video shot by AFP correspondent Patrick Galey.
Gasps and sobs are heard in the background, reflecting the sense of helplessness of viewers around the world.
The sight of the historic spire—”glowing red then turning into a virtual cinder”—the New York Times reported, “stunned thousands of onlookers who gathered along the banks of the Seine and packed into the plaza of the nearby Hotel de Ville, gasping and covering their mouths in horror and wiping away tears.”
“When the spire fell, the crowd reacted with ohhh and ahh, but I guess most of them were just shocked silently,” Thibaud Binétruy of Paris told CNN. “It’s awful to see such a symbol disappearing in front of you. It’s been there for so many years and in a few minutes half of it disappeared…crazy. Paris without Notre Dame, madness.”