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Museum up in flames

Museum up in flames

The loss at the Brazil National Museum inferno is incalculable. Over 20 million priceless artifacts, some spanning 11,000 years have disappeared. In no way can such a destruction ever be compensated for. More than 20 million pieces of history, including Egyptian mummies and historic artwork have been destroyed. "The loss of the National Museum's collection is insurmountable for Brazil," President Michel Temer tweeted. No one knows what sparked the blaze. Firefighters worked through the night to battle the flames but, sadly, in vain. "Very little will be left, if at all" preservation director Joao Carlos Nara said. Most of the human toll came in the form of grief and tears as employees, researchers and academics flocked to the scene in Rio de Janeiro. Many of them cried as they watched flames consume the building. They were all, obviously, overcome by the loss. This was 200 years of work of a scientific institution. The palatial National Museum building used to be the home of a Portuguese royal family. Almost exactly 200 years ago, it was converted into a museum. Since then, the National Museum has become Brazil's oldest historical institution and an internationally prominent research centre. "Two hundred years of work, research and knowledge were lost," President Temer said after the fire."It's a sad day for all Brazilians." The museum housed 20 million artifacts in areas such as biological anthropology, archeology, ethnology, geology, paleontology, and zoology, according to its website. One of the museum's most famous artifacts is known as "Luzia," the skull and bones of a 25-year-old woman who died more than 11,000 years ago. They are the oldest remains ever discovered in Brazil, the museum's website says. The largest meteorite ever found in Brazil is also housed in the museum. It weighs 5.36 tons and was found in 1784. Other rare exhibits included thousands of works from the pre-Colombian era, such as mummified Andean skeletons. The museum also housed an impressive collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts, including mummies, sarcophagi, statues, and stone carvings. Brazilian Ministry of Culture Sergio Sa Leitao said the country is in mourning. "I have also asked for a complete evaluation of the fire preparedness conditions of every other federal museum in the country," he said," in order to verify the steps that need to be taken to avoid another tragedy." The loss, in the final analysis, was not merely that of Brazil or Latin America but the whole world. Could the fire have been prevented? Even if the result of the findings has not emerged, it could well have. All such fires can be prevented. But what does it say about a Government that spends billions on the Olympics and drastically slashes the cultural budget?

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