A huge collection of natural history specimens are likely to have been destroyed in a fire at a museum in India.
The fire started on the sixth floor of the National Museum of Natural History in New Delhi during the early hours of Tuesday morning. It took more than 30 fire trucks and four hours to douse the flames.
The full extent of the damage is not yet known, although many of the museum's priceless collections are thought to be lost. These include many stuffed or preserved specimens of butterflies, frogs, snakes, lizards, tigers, leopards, and two extinct species of Indian vultures, as well as 160-million-year-old fossils of dinosaurs that were native to the area.
Prakash Javadekar, India’s Environment Minister, tweeted: “The fire at National Museum of Natural History is tragic. The Museum is a natural treasure. The loss cannot be quantified.”
The cause of the fire is still unknown, although the museum has previously come under criticism for poor maintenance and upkeep. The Indian Express reports that the Delhi Fire Services said the building had inadequate firefighting equipment and no fire clearance, which the museum deny.
Dr. Venugopal, the director of the National Museum of Natural History, told the Indian Express: “All exhibits were precious. We feel really sad that all our work is gone.”
The damage might already have been done, but if it is a small consolation, the Indian government announced that it is putting 2.25 billion rupees ($33 million) towards the construction of a new natural history museum for the people of New Delhi.