Brasilia, Sep 3: Brazil's national museum, a 200-year-old building that once served as residence for the Portuguese royal family and contains 20 million items in its collection, has gone up in flames, a BBC News report said on Monday.
The blaze broke out late on Sunday evening, and firefighters have been unable to bring it under control. The fire lit up the night sky, and sent plumes of smoke over the city of Rio de Janeiro. No injuries have been reported, but valuable national treasures were contained inside, and there are fears that many may be lost.
Among them were 20,000 items related to the history of Brazil and other countries, with many collections coming from members of Brazil's royal family. Firefighters have been desperately trying to retrieve items of cultural and historical significance from inside the burning building.
The museum also housed artefacts from Egypt, Greco-Roman art and some of the first fossils found in Brazil. It includes important dinosaur bones and a 12,000-year-old human skeleton of a woman - the oldest ever found in the Americas.
"This is a cultural tragedy," the director of the National Museum told Brazil's Globo TV. "Two hundred years of work and research and knowledge are lost," Brazilian President Michel Temer said. It is not yet known how the fire began. (UNI)