Fire Destroys Rare Exhibits At Delhi’s Natural History Museum

Fire broke out at the National Museum of Natural History building in Central Delhi during early hours of Tuesday. 

Updated
India
3 min read
Cooling operations underway at Natural History Museum (Delhi) after a massive fire broke out last night.(Photo: ANI)

A massive fire broke out at the National Museum of Natural History in Central Delhi during the early hours on Tuesday. Five fire officials inhaled excessive smoke while trying to douse the fire and were rushed to the hospital.

Most likely, the fire started from some electrical equipment in the premises. The damage is extensive, we’ve lost valuables. Five firemen have been injured.
JC Mishra, Director, Delhi Fire Service to ANI

Many exhibits like taxi-dermied (stuffed) animals and specimens were gutted in the fire, say some reports..

Reports say the fire broke out on the top floor of the museum, located in FICCI Building in Mandi House, where some repair work was underway and quickly spread to all other floors of the building. It took 35 fire tenders nearly four hours to finally contain the blaze which broke out around 1:45 am, an official said. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, a senior official said.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also visited the spot. Javadekar said thousands of exhibits were housed in the museum which is a national treasure and thousands of people visit the museum everyday. An audit will take stock of the unfortunate damage.

This is tragic. The Natural History Museum is a national treasure. This is a FICCI property, it’s a rented building as far as the ministry is concerned. We have 34 museums across the country. We have ordered a fire audit of all establishments.
Prakash Javadekar, Environment Minister to ANI

FICCI Auditorium Unharmed

Earlier, as reports indicated that the fire started at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FICCI) office and auditorium, there were concerns about damage to the FICCI office. But the Secretary General of FICCI, Dr A Didar Singh, clarified that their premises were safe.

The building of National Museum of Natural History in Delhi in the early morning hours of Tuesday, 26 April 2016. (Photo: ANI/<b>The Quint</b>)
The building of National Museum of Natural History in Delhi in the early morning hours of Tuesday, 26 April 2016. (Photo: ANI/The Quint)

Fire safety mechanism was ‘not functioning’

The fire safety mechanism of the National Museum of Natural History in FICCI building was “not functioning” which could have controlled the fire, fire service officials said

The fire safety systems were there but they were not functioning at the time when we tried to operate them. Had they been working, the fire would have been curtailed at the earliest time.
Rajesh Panwar, Deputy Fire Chief 

What You Need to Know About the National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) was the brainchild of the late former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She formulated the idea of a national museum on India’s 25th Independence day, according to NMNH’s official website.

The Atrium inside the National Museum of Natural History run by the government of India. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/craigdietrich/6547421023/in/album-72157628011722112/">Flickr.com/CraigDietrich</a>)
The Atrium inside the National Museum of Natural History run by the government of India. (Photo Courtesy: Flickr.com/CraigDietrich)

The museum was thrown open to public on World Environment Day, 5 June 1978.

It has three more branches in the country:

  • Mysore (Southern Region) set up in May 1995
  • Bhopal (Central Region) set up in September 1997
  • Bhubaneswar (Eastern Region) set up in August 2004
The building, near the Mandi House region of Delhi, has been provided to the Government of India on rent. The building belongs to FICCI, according to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.
The Exhibit Hall inside the National Museum of Natural History run by the Indian government in Delhi. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/craigdietrich/6547391953">Flickr.com/CraigDietrich</a>)
The Exhibit Hall inside the National Museum of Natural History run by the Indian government in Delhi. (Photo Courtesy: Flickr.com/CraigDietrich)

(With PTI inputs.)

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