Brazil's National Museum destroyed in fire

Brazil's National Museum destroyed in fire

As firefighters sifted through the burned-out remains of Rio de Janeiro's National Museum for hot embers Monday, Brazilians struggled with the loss of a vast collection of irreplaceable items from the country's history.

"ICOM and all its affiliates are deeply saddened by the fire which engorged the National Museum Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, which destroyed the museum's collection".

Roberto Robaday, Rio's fire chief, told the Associated Press that the two nearest hydrants had no supplies, so water from a nearby lake was used to extinguish the fire.

Brazil's president, Michel Temer has called the losses "incalculable".

"Collections that are over 100 years old", Cristiana Serejo, one of the museum's vice-directors, told Brazil's G1 news.

Late past year, after a termite attack shuttered a room hosting the bones of the Maxakalisaurus dinosaur, the National Museum was forced to turn to a crowdfunding site to seek funds for reopening the exhibit.

According to the Guardian report, firefighters reportedly had trouble finding water to combat the blaze.

According to Reuters, the museum had been financially neglected by the federal government and was due to overhaul its fire safety systems thanks to a private bank loan.

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The museum was founded in 1818.

For many in Brazil, the state of the 200-year-old natural history museum quickly became a metaphor for what they see as the gutting of Brazilian culture and life during years of corruption, economic collapse and poor governance.

Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte, the museum's deputy director, criticised authorities for starving the museum of vital funding while spending lavishly on stadiums to host the World Cup in 2014. The cause of the fire is not yet known but the museum is believed to have fallen on hard times in the recent past due to a lack of funds needed for upkeep. "It was a foretold tragedy", says herpetologist Hussam Zaher, of the University of Sao Paulo's Museum of Zoology, who is originally from Rio and started his scientific career at the National Museum.

Many of them cried as they watched flames consume the building.

The building was once home to the Portuguese royal family, and today it's the oldest historical institution in the country and a prominent research institution. The Times noted that the oldest human fossil from the region, of a woman referred to Luzia, is also part of the museum's holdings.

The museum also houses an impressive collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts, like mummies, sarcophagi, statues and stone carvings.

"We're going to have the participation of museum employees". The fire didn't reach the area, but it caused the electricity to fail, threatening some artifacts, said Marcelo Wexler, a researcher in the vertebrate department.

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