Delhi’s iconic National Museum of Natural History was destroyed in a fire that broke out in the building that it is housed in, early on Tuesday.
Five fire officials were injured while trying to contain the blaze which broke out around 1.48 a.m, and were rushed to hospital, an official said. As many as 35 fire tenders were pressed into service and the operation to contain the flames was underway.
The museum is housed in FICCI building in the capital’s art district, Mandi House. Its collection included a 160 million-yr-old fossil bone of a lizard-footed dinosaur that’s called a sauropod. It also had stuffed animals made by renowned Mysore-based taxidermists Van Ingen & Van Ingen.
According the officials, almost everything including the collection and documents on display in the museum, was destroyed. “Important documents and property has been destroyed. We are yet to audit the damage,” an official said.
The inferno started between 1:30 am and 2 am. There’s no word yet on what caused the fire. Police said it began in the top floor of the building on Tansen Road in Lutyens’s Delhi and spread rapidly thereafter.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who visited the spot, described the mishap as “unfortunate” and ordered a safety audit of all museums under his ministry. “This is unfortunate…Museum of Natural History is a national heritage. Thousands of exhibits were there and thousands of people visit the museum everyday,” he said, adding that officials were ascertaining the extent of the damage and ways to restore it.
(IANS & agencies)