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Raging fire tears through 200-yr-old Rio museum 

Rio De Janeiro, September 3 

A massive fire raced through Brazil’s 200-year-old National Museum in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, probably destroying its collection of more than 20 million items, ranging from archeological finds to historical memorabilia.

The destruction of the building, once a palace for emperors that had fallen into disrepair, was an “incalculable loss for Brazil,” President Michel Temer said in a statement. “Two hundred years of work, research and knowledge were lost.”

There was no word of the possible cause late on Sunday, nor if there were casualties or the exact extent of damage. Firefighters in Rio did not reply to requests for comment. The museum, located in the city’s north near the Maracana football stadium, was closed to the public when the fire sparked from a yet unknown cause.

The fire “spread very quickly; there is a lot of inflammable material,” a spokesperson for Rio’s fire department told AFP, adding that there were no reports of victims so far. 

Brazil’s minister of culture, Sergio Sa Leitao, tweeted that “there will be little or nothing left of the palace and the exhibits.” “The loss is irreparable,” he said. 

A deputy director at the museum, Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte, voiced “profound discouragement and immense anger” as the treasured institution burned, accusing Brazilian authorities of a “lack of attention.”  He said the museum, a former palace that was once the official residence of the Portuguese royal family, had never had necessary support. — Agencies

Had artifacts from Greco-Roman era

  • The natural history and anthropology museum was founded in 1818 by King Joao VI and is considered a jewel of Brazilian culture, with more than 20 million valuable pieces to its name
  • The collection included art and artifacts from Greco-Roman times and Egypt, as well as the oldest human fossil found within today’s Brazilian borders, known as “Luzia”
  • The museum also housed the skeleton of a dinosaur found in the Minas Gerais region along with the largest meteorite discovered in Brazil, which was named “Bendego” and weighed 5.3 tons
  • Pieces covering a period of nearly four centuries-from the arrival of the Portuguese to the territory in the 1500s until the declaration of the first Brazilian republic in 1889 — had also been stored there

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