The National Museum of Natural History was completely destroyed in a major fire in central Delhi early on today. The fire started at the museum, housed in the FICCI complex at Mandi House near Connaught Place, at around 1.45 am on the top floor of the six-storey building and quickly engulfed other floors.
Flames could be seen billowing out of the top floor of the complex six hours after the fire broke out, Asian News International reported.
As many as 35 fire engines were pressed into service to douse the fire, which has brought under control at around 5 am. The blaze has still not been completely doused and flames could be seen on the top floor. Six fire brigade personnel were injured and were admitted to the nearby Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. Two of them are reported to be critical.
“The building's fire safety mechanisms were not working, still we controlled it within two hours,” Rajesh Panwar, a fire officer, said.
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.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar visited the FICCI complex to take stock of the situation. "This is tragic, the Natural History Museum is a national treasure, the loss cannot be counted in rupees" he said. "It's a rented building as far as the ministry is concerned," Javadekar said. The museum had been in existence since June 5, 1978. “We have 34 museums across the country, have ordered a fire audit of all establishments,” he added.
"Yes it is unfortunate that the fire incident in Museum building in FICCI premises. FICCI office and auditorium are okay. None hurt," tweeted A Didar Singh, the secretary general of FICCI.