A 200-year old National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on late Sunday was caught on massive fire, lighting up the night and sending large plumes of smoke into the air, sources said.
According to reports, no casualty was reported in the fire, which occurred after the museum was closed for the day.
Around 50 firefighters have been trying to contain the inferno, which has engulfed the entire building in flames, according to sources.
“This is a tragic day for Brazil,” President Michel Temer said in a statement. “Two hundred years of work and research and knowledge are lost.”
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The esteemed museum, which was founded in 1818 by King Joao VI and is among Brazil’s most important architecture, houses over 20 million objects ranging from archaeological findings to historical memorabilia, sources said.
The national museum is housed inside the Sao Cristovao palace in Rio de Janeiro, a former residence of the Portuguese royal family.
“This is a cultural tragedy,” the director of the National History Museum said on Globo TV.
According to the museum’s deputy director, there were plenty of inflammable items inside the building that could have triggered the blaze.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, it said.
(With inputs from agencies)