26/04/2016 9:11 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

Early Morning Fire Destroys Delhi's National Museum of Natural History


NEW DELHI -- A huge fire broke out in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the National Museum of Natural History, destroying the 38-year-old institution that was the brainchild of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The cause of the fire is as yet unknown. Fire officials received a call at around 1.45 am on Tuesday morning, and as many as 25 fire tenders were immediately rushed to the spot, at Mandi House in central Delhi, and 15 more were sent later. Though the fire was brought under control after two hours, smoke could be still seen billowing out of the top floors of the building, reported ANI.

"Building's fire safety mechanisms were not working, still we controlled it within 2 hours," Fire Officer, Rajesh Panwar, told ANI. The fire was finally extinguished by 8 am.

The museum is located in the FICCI auditorium premises, and first started at the top floors and later spread throughout the building, destroying decades of careful curation of India's natural history. Some parts of the FICCI auditorium were also damaged in the inferno. There was some renovation work underway in the building. Officials said there weren't too many people at the building when the incident took place, and no civilians were injured in the fire.

Six fire officials are said to be seriously injured while battling to flames. They have been rushed to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where their condition is said to be stable.

The Museum was planned as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations for India's independence, and finally opened on 5 June 1978 to promote knowledge of India's diverse flora and fauna. It has several regional museums spread across the country.

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