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Massive fire destroys Delhi's iconic National Museum of Natural History

A major fire broke out at FICCI building in Mandi House here in the wee hours today. Two fire officials were seriously injured while trying to contain the blaze which broke out around 1.45 AM, and were rushed to hospital where they are in a critical
PTI April 26, 2016 23:03 IST

New Delhi: A massive fire broke out in the wee hours today at the National Museum of Natural History in Mandi House area of the national capital. As many as 35 fire tenders were used to douse the flames, which has now been brought under control, even though smoke could be seen billowing out of the top floors of the building.

The fire in the museum, which is located in the FICCI auditorium premises, broke out at around 1.45 am on the sixth floor and later spread throughout building. Some parts of the FICCI auditorium were also damaged in the massive inferno.

The exact cause behind the inferno's origin is yet to be ascertained. Two fire officials were seriously injured while battling to flames. They have been rushed to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital for immediate medial aid.

Meanwhile, the Environment Ministry has ordered energy and fire audit of all the 34 museums present across the country. "This incident is very tragic. The Natural History Museum is a national treasure. I have talked to the fire officials and they are present at the site. We will see and access the loss that has taken place," Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who visited the site, said.

"I have ordered energy and fire audit of all our establishments all over the country because we have 34 museums, ZSI and BSI, all put together. We will take care that such incidents don't happen," he added.

The Minister also said that the building was on a rented property of FICCI and thus, the Ministry has its limitations. "See, the issue is that it is a rented property. It is not our ministry's property and it's a FICCI property and therefore we have limitations. This is a real loss and we will access the loss when the building is handed over to us. After that we will see how the recovery plan can be made," he said.

The National Museum of Natural History was set up in 1978 to promote environmental awareness. It had three exhibit galleries - "Introduction of Natural History", "Nature's Network: Ecology" and "Conservation". The museum had exhibits like herpetological specimen, dinosaurs and mounted animals but it is not yet known how much was lost in the fire.