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An intense fire has broken out at the 19th Century basilica of Saint-Donatien in the city of Nantes in western France.

The fire broke out on Monday after morning Mass, with worshippers evacuated from the building, Rev Benoit Bertrand told local media.

Around 40 firefighters worked to extinguish the flames, which are believed to have originated on the roof where work was being carried out.

Two workers escaped from the top of the building unharmed.Huge fire engulfs Saint-Donatien basilica in Nantes

The Mayor of Nantes Johanna Rolland said the basilica was “an important symbol” for the Catholic community.

In a statement on Facebook Johanna Rolland also thanked firefighters for their “rapid and brave action”.

The blaze broke out at around 10:30 local time and may have been linked to “waterproofing work”, according to the city’s chief fire officer.

The roof has been severely damaged and efforts are now underway to save several precious objects inside the basilica, most notably its organ.

Social media users shared images of the burning building on Twitter, showing smoke billowing from its rooftop.

The basilica dates back to the 19th Century and is dedicated to the religious martyrs St Donatien and St Rogatien.

At least 112 people have been killed in a fire at a poultry processing plant in China, according to officials.

The fire broke out at a slaughterhouse in Dehui in Jilin province early on Monday, according to state-run Xinhua news agency.

Rescue workers were at the scene and the fire had not yet been put out, the report said, citing local sources.

There are reports that the fire took hold following three explosions in an electrical system.

About 100 workers had managed to escape from the plant, Xinhua said, adding that the “complicated interior structure” of the building and narrow exits had made rescue work more difficult.

The number of workers trapped inside the plant had yet to be confirmed, the agency added. The cause of the fire was under investigation, it said.

At least 112 people have been killed in a fire at a poultry processing plant in China

At least 112 people have been killed in a fire at a poultry processing plant in China

Those injured were sent to hospital, Xinhua says. The severity of their injuries however remains unclear.

Workers interviewed by state broadcaster CCTV said the fire broke out during a shift change and may have started in a locker room.

The company that owns the farm, a big producer of processed chicken, employs more than 1,000 people, reports say.

Photographs posted on Chinese news websites showed thick smoke coming from the large cement and corrugated iron sheds, with fire trucks still at the scene.

Workplace safety standards can often be poor in China, with fatal accidents regularly reported at large factories and mines.

The plant is located around 500 miles north-east of Beijing.

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