Brazil's 200-Year-Old National Museum Containing 20 Million Artifacts Burns Down

Brazil museum fire

Brazil museum fire

The museum, located in the city's north, was closed to the public when the fire broke out and no injuries were immediately reported.

The museum's expansive collection included what are largely considered the most important anthropological and ethnographical records concerning Brazil, some of the first fossils found in the country, ancient Egyptian mummies, one of Brazil's largest scientific libraries, Greco-Roman art, and the most extensive numismatic collection in Latin America. Two hundred years of work and research and knowledge are lost.Brazil President Michel Temer said in a statement.

Luiz Duarte, a vice-director of the museum, told TV Globo the loss of the museum was an "unbearable catastrophe", according to The Guardian.

The museum is part of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

It is not known what the extent of the damage is, nor what the cause of the fire is.

Witnesses watched on in horror as the famous Rio de Janeiro museum was engulfed in flames early on Monday morning.

"We were able to remove a lot of things from inside with the help of workers of the museum", Robadey told Globo News.

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Culture Minister Sergio Sa Leitao said it was a "tragedy that could have been avoided" but a reconstruction effort would begin.

He said the museum, a former palace that was once the official resident of the royal family, had never had necessary support.

In late 2017, after a termite attack shuttered a room hosting the bones of the Maxakalisaurus dinosaur, the National Museum turned to a crowdfunding site to seek funds for reopening the exhibit.

The staff had just gone through fire training and arranged for flammable items, such as animals kept in bottles with alcohol and formaldehyde, to be removed from the building. Firefighters attempting to douse the blaze said they were not sure how the fire started.

The museum is housed in the Paço de São Cristóvão, which was home to the Brazilian imperial family for much of the 19th century.

They told local news outlets that firefighters had difficulty blasting water into the burning building, which is fully ablaze. "It is 200 years of this country's heritage".

Some Brazilians saw the fire as a metaphor for their country's traumas as it battles terrifying levels of violent crime and the effects of a recession that has left more than 12 million people unemployed.

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