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Massive fire engulfs Brazil’s 200-year-old national museum

Massive fire engulfs Brazil’s 200-year-old national museum
Firefighters work the fire at the 200-year-old National Museum of Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP)
London, Sep 3 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 9/3/2018 12:10:26 PM IST

Officials in Brazil have blamed lack of funding for a huge fire that has ravaged the country’s National Museum, BBC reported.

One of the largest anthropology and natural history collections in the Americas was almost totally destroyed in Sunday’s fire in Rio de Janeiro. There had been complaints about the dilapidated state of the museum. “We never had adequate support,” its deputy director said after the fire.

Presidential candidate Marina Silva also criticised lack of investment. “Given the financial straits of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and all the other public universities the last three years, this was a tragedy that could be seen coming,” Ms Silva, a left-wing politician standing in next month’s election, tweeted. The fire started on Sunday evening, after the building - a 19th Century former royal palace - had closed for the day. The cause is not known.

No injuries have been reported, but most of the 20 million items the museum contained, including the oldest human remains ever found in the Americas, went up in flames.

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”.

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

A deputy director at the museum, Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte, expressed “immense anger”, and accused Brazilian authorities of a “lack of attention”.

“We fought years ago, in different governments, to obtain resources to adequately preserve everything that was destroyed today.”

A third of the 30 exhibition halls were closed because of budget cuts, the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper says.

A major dinosaur exhibition, which was forced to shut following a termite attack five months ago, recently reopened only thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, the report adds.

Museum librarian Edson Vargas da Silva told local media that the building had wooden floors and contained “a lot of things that burn very fast”, such as paper documents.

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