New Delhi: The National Museum of Natural History was completely destroyed in a major fire in central Delhi early on Tuesday.
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.
The FICCI complex also housed the FICCI Auditorium and FICCI Headquarters but they were reported to be safe.
As many as 35 fire engines were pressed into service to douse the fire which was brought under control at around 5 am.
As per news agency ANI, 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.
Since the fire broke out late in the night, not too many people were inside the building which was under renovation.
Reports quoted fire brigade officials as saying that fire safety mechanisms inside the building were not functioning, which led to the spread of the blaze.
“The building's fire safety mechanisms were not working, still we controlled it within two hours,” Rajesh Panwar, a fire officer, told ANI news agency.
JC Mishra, director, Delhi Fire Service, later said the fire most likely started from some electrical equipment in the premises.
Meanwhile, 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. Firemen are still at the spot,” Javadekar said after reviewing the situation.
The minister announced that he has ordered a fire safety audit of all museums across the country.
“We have 34 museums across the country, have ordered a fire audit of all establishments,” he stated.