Newshour, Brazil museum deputy director: 'It's irreplaceable'

Brazil's 200-Year-Old National Museum Gutted By Raging Fire

A massive fire on Sunday, September 2, ripped through Rio de Janeiro's treasured National Museum, one of Brazil's oldest, in what the nation's president said was a "tragic" loss of knowledge and heritage.

Though some 20 fire brigades dashed to the scene after the blaze erupted around 2230 GMT, they had yet to smother the inferno that was tearing through hundreds of rooms.

The full extent of the damage isn't yet clear.

Firefighters removed remnants of artifacts and paintings that survived the fire. He said the paper hot air balloon may have landed on the roof.

The cause of the fire that broke out Sunday night was not known.

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It spread with astonishing speed, demolishing wood, documents and other flammable materials in its wake.

Brazil has struggled to emerge from a two-year recession and seen its political and corporate elite jailed in Latin America's largest corruption investigation. Many Brazilians are posting under the hashtag, #lutopelomuseunacional (mourning for the national museum) to express their sadness and outrage regarding the major incident. They also included "Luzia", a 12,000-year-old skeleton, which is the oldest in the Americas.

Another priceless artifact, a 5.5-ton meteorite discovered in Brazil in 1784, was also housed within the museum.

Brazil's Minister of Culture Sergio Sa Leitao acknowledged that "the tragedy could have been avoided", without accepting responsibility or providing further details.

Many have already said that regardless of what is salvaged, the loss will be immeasurable. "Culture is grieving. The country is grieving".

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The museum's vice-director Luiz Duarte told the Globo TV network that it had suffered from years of neglect under numerous governments.

The museum, which once served as the residence for the Portuguese royal family, celebrated its 200-year anniversary earlier in 2018. This is a bad happening to human heritage that caused the world to lose a heritage that can not be compensated of fossils dating back to ancient times, and it is hard to compensate for the heritage loss, which included items of the Egyptian Pharaonic civilization.

Late a year ago, 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. Many of them cried as the watched flames consume the building.

Ms McKay, who has visited the museum in Brazil, said there were similarities with her own institution.

Araujo was also among those pointing out that Brazil's government has presided over budget cuts for the arts, including the budget for the museum. The museum was closed during the fire and experts had little time to save some of the items.

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