Rio de Janeiro’s 200 year-old museum torn apart by huge fire as ancient relics go up in smoke

A MASSIVE fire tore through a 200-year-old museum in Rio de Janeiro, burning ancient relics and artefacts.

The inferno, on Sunday night sent plumes of smoke into the air as firefighters tried to save historical items from the flames.

AFP or licensors

A massive fire tore through a 200-year-old museum in Rio[/caption]

The esteemed National Museum in northern Rio, which houses artefacts from Egypt, Greco-Roman art and some of the first fossils found in Brazil, was closed to the public at the time of the fire and there were no reports of injuries.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the fire began. The museum said the blaze began around 7:30 p.m.

President Michel Temer said it was “a sad day for all Brazilians.”

Brazil is in mourning after a priceless collection of ancient artefacts were destroyed in the blaze
AP:Associated Press
People watch helpless as the blaze reduces relics to ash
AFP or licensors

“Two hundred years of work, investigation and knowledge have been lost,” Temer said in a statement.

According to the museum’s website, it has more than 20,000 items related to the history of Brazil and other countries, and that many of its collections came from members of Brazil’s royal family.

Roberto Robadey, a spokesman for the fire department, said 80 firefighters were working to put out the blaze and that some pieces had been spared.

The museum was founded in 1818 by King John VI of Portugal
Getty Images – Getty
Fire fighters desperately battle to save the collection
It houses artefacts from Egypt, Greco-Roman art and some of the first fossils found in Brazil
The National Museum in Rio before the inferno

“We were able to remove a lot of things from inside with the help of workers of the museum,” he told Globo News.

Robadey said firefighters got off to a slow start 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.

Latin America’s largest nation has struggled to emerge from its worst recession in decades.

The state of Rio de Janeiro has been particularly hard hit in recent years thanks to a combination of falling world prices of oil, one of its major revenue sources, mismanagement and massive corruption.

“This was a tragedy that could be seen coming,” Marina Silva, one of the leading presidential candidates, tweeted.

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,” he said.

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