Fire rips through 200-year-old Rio museum

Fire rips through 200-year-old Rio museum

Fire rips through 200-year-old Rio museum

The National Museum held around 20 million relics, among them a 12,000 year-old skull named Luzia that was believed to be one of South America's oldest fossils.

Firefighters on Tuesday "found fragments of bones in a room where the museum kept many items, including skulls", said Cristiana Serejo, the museum's deputy director.

In an age when major European museums can put up lavishly funded satellites in diversified continents, the woes of the Nationwide Museum provide a reminder that many extra countries are dwelling to equally wondrous treasures but lack the sources to safeguard them - and to lend a hand their populations cherish their significance.

Brazil's National Museum caught fire on Sunday, quickly burning nearly to rubble in the span of a few hours.

A paleontologist works on the skeleton of an Angaturama limai at the National Museum of History in Rio de Janeiro on May 14, 2009.

Late past year, after a termite attack shuttered a room hosting the bones of the Maxakalisaurus dinosaur, the National Museum was forced to turn to a crowdfunding site to seek funds for reopening the exhibit.

Discovered in 1975, in the central Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, Luzia was probably 25 when she died, according to the museum's website.

On Monday, citizens took to the streets outside the museum to protest what had happened, angry that such a significant chunk of their history had been erased over a lack of funding from those in power.

Roberto Leher, rector of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, to which the museum was linked, said it was well known that the building was vulnerable to fire and in need of extensive fix. Duarte said he was in the habit of unplugging everything in his office at night because of the risk. Authorities had expressed concern Monday that internal walls and parts of the roof were weak. That being said, it is a fact that it's impossible to replace the items destroyed by the flames.

The National Museum's collection ranged from archaeological finds to historical memorabilia.

In fact, several important parts of the collection - vertebrates, insects from the order Diptera (which includes flies and mosquitoes), and botany - as well as the main library, have been moved years ago to annex building, distant from the burnt area. While stealing treasures from Italy, France and Belgium, the Nazis were instructed to destroy important pieces created by Jewish artists and artifacts of Jewish culture.

A tragedy such as the fire means that years of Latin American cultural history are lost for good.

Yet while the lion's share of anger is being directed toward Temer, former President Rousseff has also been accused of squandering funds on the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Police attacked the students with pepper spray, tear gas and stun grenades. He said the group tried to identify in the dark the most irreplaceable objects, but said they only saved a "minuscule portion of the heritage that was lost".

Signs of disrepair were evident: The fencing was dilapidated, stonework was cracked and lawns appeared untended. However, over the last three years it has received 60 percent or less of this amount.

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