00:19 GMT +317 June 2019
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    National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 2, 2018.

    Huge Fire Devastates Brazil National Museum (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

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    Established in 1818, the National Museum of Brazil - the oldest scientific institution in the country with more than 20 million priceless exhibits and artifacts - was hit by a severe fire Sunday night after its closure, local media reported.

    According to media reports, the fire engulfed the entire central building and firefighters dispatched to the scene desperately battled the raging flames.

    The scientific institution is one of the largest museums of natural history and anthropology in Latin America. Founded by King John VI of Portugal some 200 years ago, the museum hosts a vast collection encompassing the most important records regarding Brazil's natural history and invaluable items produced by ancient civilizations throughout the world.

    According to the Globo TV Broadcaster, there was no immediate information on potential deaths or injuries. The National Museum's press service told local reporters that no one was injured and four security staffers had been evacuated in time. However, eyewitnesses claim there can be no chance to rescue many pieces of the priceless collection.

    "This is a tragic day for Brazil," Brazilian President Michel Temer said in a statement quoted by AFP. "Two hundred years of work and research and knowledge are lost." The director of the National History Museum told Globo TV that "this is a cultural tragedy."

    According to the vice-director of the National Museum, Luiz Duarte, the institution had suffered from years of neglect under numerous governments, Reuters reported.

    "We never got anything from the federal government… 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," Luiz Duarte told Globo TV as quoted by Reuters.

    READ MORE: Brazilian President Mobilizes Army to Ensure Security in Rio de Janeiro

     

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    conflagration, artifacts, fire, damage, National Museum of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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