Delhi's National Museum of Natural History gutted in a massive fire
A massive fire broke out in the FICCI building in central Delhi in the wee hours today and destroyed the National Museum of Natural History. Many exhibits like herpetological specimens and taxidermied animals were gutted.
Six fire officials were rushed to hospital after they inhaled excessive smoke during the four-hour operation to control the blaze that broke out at 1:45 am.
Their condition is said to be stable now, officials said.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who visited the spot, described the fire 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 every day," he said, adding that officials were ascertaining the extent of the damage and ways to restore it.
The fire broke out on the top floor of the museum, located in FICCI Building in Mandi House, where some repair work was underway and quickly spread to all other floors of the building.
As many as 35 fire tenders were pressed into service. It took fire fighters more than four hours to douse the blaze after which a cooling operation was launched which lasted for another few hours, a fire official said.
The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, a senior police official said. There were not too many people in the building, which was evacuated by the time fire officials reached the scene.