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Brazil firefighters try to save relics in 200-year-old National Museum after massive blaze

Flames tore through the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday night.

(Tania Dominici/via REUTERS)

Brazil’s National Museum has suffered catastrophic damage after a massive fire broke out on Sunday. Firefighters are working to rescue a number of the objects in the museum, which was once home to a 12,000 year-old skeleton, the oldest human remains ever found in south America.

Many of the 20 million objects in the museum, formally known as Rio Museu Nacional, have been lost. However, Roberto Robadey, a spokesman for the fire brigade said that about 80 firefighters were fighting the blaze and a number of the museum pieces had been spared.

“We were able to remove a lot of things within with the help of the employees of the museum,” Robadey told Globo News.

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Emergency responders tried to save a number of the items in the museum, but many artifacts were presumed lost.

(REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

The museum contained pieces relating to anthropology, archaeology and paleontology, among other areas, including the previously mentioned remains of a 12,000 year-old skeleton known as “Luzia”, the oldest ever discovered in America, according to the BBC.

The museum housed items from the years 1500, when the Portuguese came into the country, until 1889, when Brazil was declared a republic. It also had pieces from the Greco-Roman antiquity and Ancient Egypt, the BBC added.

In addition, the ethnology collection, pieces from the pre-Columbian era.

Much of the collection came from the members of Brazil, the royal family, the officials said.

Robadey said that at about midnight local time the fire was “just about under control.” The smoke was still in the building the next morning.

President Michel Temer said that it is “a sad day for all Brazilians.”

He continued in a statement, “Two hundred years of work, research and knowledge lost.”

BRAZIL’S NATIONAL MUSEUM, 200 YEARS OLD, GOES UP IN FLAMES

It was not yet known what the cause of the fire, which began after the museum closed on Sunday. The museum reportedly had infrastructure problems in the last few years.

The museum is Brazil’s oldest. Sérgio Sá Leitão, the country’s minister of culture, told the newspaper how tragic it was to see in the museum in flames. According to a translation of his remarks, he said the fire “would certainly be avoided.”

Fox News’ Nicole Darrah and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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