RIO DE JANEIRO- A 200 year old National Museum was destroyed as a fire raced through it on Sunday. Sources say that much of its collect of more than 20 million items were destroyed. These items were ranging from archaeological finds to historical memorabilia.
The fire cause an incalculable loss for Brazil,” President Michel Temer said in a statement. “Two hundred years of work, research and knowledge were lost.”
The reason of the fire is yet not clear. There were no reports of injuries, the museum said. Fire department spokesman Roberto Robadey, said crews got off to a slow start fighting the blaze because the two fire hydrants closest to the museum were not functioning. Instead, trucks had to be sent to get water from a nearby lake.
But he added that some of the museum’s pieces had been spared.
“We were able to remove a lot of things from inside with the help of workers of the museum,” Robadey told Globo News. “It is an enormous tragedy,” museum director Alexander Kellner said in a statement posted on Facebook early Monday. He added that they haven’t yet been able to measure the total damage to the collection.
The museum was funded in 1818 and is tied to the Rio de Janeiro federal university and the education ministry. It houses several landmark collections, including Egyptian artifacts and the oldest human fossil found in Brazil.
“We never got anything from the federal government,” said the official, Luiz Duarte. “We recently finalized an agreement with [state-run development bank] BNDES for a massive investment, so that we could finally restore the palace and, ironically, we had planned on a new fire prevention system.”
Rio residents watched the blaze in horror.
“I see the history of my country becoming ashes. It has no price. I’m devastated,” Rio resident Isabelle Ramalho told the Associated Press.
In a statement posted on its website in June, BNDES agreed to financing of $5.35 million to “physically restore the historic building” and also to carry out work to “guarantee more security to its collections.”
On Instagram, Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella called on the country to rebuild.
“It’s a national obligation to reconstruct it from the ashes, recompose every eternal detail of the paintings and photos. Even if they are not original, they continue to be a reminder of the royal family that gave us independence, the (Portuguese) empire and the first constitution and national unity,” he said.