Brazil’s 200 years old National history museum was yesterday night destroyed in a fire, despite efforts by firefighters to put out the massive flames.
Reports say the National Museum also known as Rio Museu Nacional, located in Rio de Janeiro, caught fire Sunday night after the building had closed for the day. It was not immediately clear what sparked the fire; the museum reportedly had infrastructure problems in recent years.
The 200-year-old history museum, housed artefacts from Egypt, Greco-Roman art and some of the first fossils found in Brazil, including the 11,500-year-old skeleton of a woman nicknamed ‘Luzia’.
The museum also housed Egyptian artefact collection, the largest in Latin America, included items which once belonged to Italian explorer Giovanni Battista Belzoni — who was the first person to get into the second pyramid of Giza and cleared the sand from the entrance of Abu Simbel temple complex.
Reacting to the fire incident at the building which was once a palace for Portugal’s royal family and Brazil’s imperial family that had fallen into disrepair, President Michel Temer said the destruction of the building was an “incalculable loss for Brazil“.
“Two hundred years of work, investigation and knowledge have been lost,” President Michel Temer tweeted.
The museum is Brazil’s oldest. Sérgio Sá Leitão, the country’s culture minister, told the newsmen how tragic it was to see the museum in flames, and, according to a translation of his remarks, said the fire “could certainly have been avoided.”
Though no injury was reported in the fire incident, Roberto Robadey, a spokesman for the fire department, said 80 firefighters were battling the blaze and that by midnight (local time) it was, “just about under control” and was close to being fully extinguished.
Mr Robadey further disclosed that the firefighters got off to a slow start fighting the blaze because the two fire hydrants closest to the museum were not functioning. Instead, trucks had to be sent to get water from a nearby lake. But he added that some of the museum’s pieces had been spared.
“WE WERE ABLE TO REMOVE A LOT OF THINGS FROM INSIDE WITH THE HELP OF WORKERS OF THE MUSEUM,” MR ROBADEY TOLD GLOBO NEWS.