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Fire ravages historic basilica

A fire has ravaged a 19th-century basilica in the western French city of Nantes.

The blaze started at the close of morning Mass, leaving just a charred shell of the rooftop at the basilica of Saint-Donatien.

Everyone inside was quickly evacuated without injury, the Rev Benoit Bertrand of the Nantes diocese told BFM television.

Hours later, with 90 firefighters and aircraft on the scene, the blaze was brought under control, according to the Nantes fire department.

The fire was apparently sparked accidentally by workers on the roof, according to the local newspaper, Presse Ocean, which reported a similar fire in 1972 - also started during construction.

Images of the historic basilica showed a blackened roof, with smoke and open flames spreading across the structure.

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