A massive fire broke out at the FICCI building in Delhi’s Mandi House area at around 1:45 a.m. on Tuesday. The building houses the National Museum of Natural History which is reported to have been completely destroyed. Many exhibits and important documents are feared to have been gutted.
According to media reports, the fire started on the 6th floor of the museum and quickly spread to all seven floors. It also reached the FICCI Auditorium in the complex which has not been damaged much.
Six fire officials who were at work through the night to douse the fire were rushed to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital after they inhaled smoke during the four-hour operation. Their condition is stable now, officials said.
A bigger tragedy was averted as there were not many people inside the museum at the time the fire broke out. The museum receives thousands of visitors every day.
Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar visited the site on Tuesday morning and ordered an energy and fire audit of all the 34 museums 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,” Javadekar said after visiting the site.
Established in 1972, the museum focused on India’s flora and fauna and had three exihibit galleries. It also had a large collection of herpetological specimen, dinosaurs and stuffed animals and birds. It is not known how much of it is lost to the fire.