BRAZIL. A fire has gutted the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, the oldest scientific institution in the country.
Most of the 20 million items it contained, including the oldest human remains ever found in the Americas, are believed to have been destroyed. The cause of the blaze is not known. No injuries have been reported.
The museum, located in a building that once served as the residence for the Portuguese royal family, celebrated its 200th anniversary this year. The fire started on Sunday evening, after the facility had closed for the day.
Brazil’s President Michel Temer said in a tweet that it was a “sad day for all Brazilians” as “200 years of work, research and knowledge were lost”.
Roberto Robadey, a spokesman for the Rio fire department, is quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying that the hydrants closest to the museum were not working and that firefighters had to get water from a nearby lake.
By Monday morning the fire was under control and some of the museum’s pieces had been rescued, he added.
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