The Guardian reports bad news.
Brazilâ€™s oldest and most important historical and scientific museum has been consumed by fire, and much of its archive of 20 million items is believed to have been destroyed.
The fire at Rio de Janeiroâ€™s 200-year-old National Museum began after it closed to the public on Sunday and raged into the night. There were no reports of injuries, but the loss to Brazilian science, history and culture was incalculable, two of its vice-directors said.
â€œIt was the biggest natural history museum in Latin America. We have invaluable collections. Collections that are over 100 years old,â€ Cristiana Serejo, one of the museumâ€™s vice-directors, told the G1 news site.
Marina Silva, a former environment minister and candidate in Octoberâ€™s presidential elections said the fire was like â€œa lobotomy of the Brazilian memoryâ€.
Luiz Duarte, another vice-director, told TV Globo: â€œIt is an unbearable catastrophe. It is 200 years of this countryâ€™s heritage. It is 200 years of memory. It is 200 years of science. It is 200 years of culture, of education.â€ TV Globo also reported that some firefighters did not have enough water to battle the blaze.
It wasnâ€™t immediately clear how the fire began. The museum was part of Rioâ€™s Federal University but had fallen into disrepair in recent years. Its impressive collections included items brought to Brazil by Dom Pedro I â€“ the Portuguese prince regent who declared the then-colonyâ€™s independence from Portugal â€“ Egyptian and Greco-Roman artefacts, â€œLuziaâ€, a 12,000 year-old skeleton and the oldest in the Americas, fossils, dinosaurs, and a meteorite found in 1784. Some of the archive was stored in another building but much of the collection is believed to have been destroyed.