NEW DELHI: A massive fire broke out last night and destroyed the National Museum of Natural History in Delhi
Six firemen have been injured and two are in a critical condition.
The fire broke out at around 1.45 am on the sixth floor of the museum located in the FICCI complex near Mandi House in central Delhi, and quickly spread to all seven floors. A part of it also spread to another building in the complex – the FICCI Auditorium – which has not been damaged much.
Firemen with as many as 35 fire engines were at work through the night to put out the blaze, which was brought under control only around 5 am. The sprinklers and water pumps in the building failed to work.
The museum functions under the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar visited the site this morning and said, “This is tragic, the museum is a national treasure. The loss cannot be quantified.” He has ordered a fire audit of all 34 museums across the country.
He also said the building belonged to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry or FICCI, and added, “They should conduct fire audit in order to restore damaged properties.”
When the fire broke out, not too many people were inside the building which was being renovated. It was evacuated by the time fire officials arrived.
The injured firemen are at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
A popular site for school visits, the National Museum of Natural History was set up in 1978 to promote environmental awareness and sees around 1000 visitors every day.
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.