Fire destroys National Museum of Natural History in Delhi

The National Museum of Natural History, located in Mandi House at Connaught Place in New Delhi, was completely gutted in a major fire in the early hours of today.

The six-storey museum is located in the same complex as trade body Ficci, which escaped the blaze.

There was no one inside at the time of the blaze. However, two firefighters suffered burns during the dousing operation. They have been admitted to a hospital.

The blaze began on one of the upper floors of the museum. "We received a call at 1.45 am. Initially we sent six fire tenders. But the fire turned out to be massive, and more than 40 fire tenders were required to fight the blaze," said Atul Garg, Additional Director, Delhi Fire Services.

By the time the blaze was controlled, only the ground and first floors of the building survived. "The museum has been destroyed," Garg said.

The cause of the fire is being probed by the police. But 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.

J C Mishra, director, Delhi Fire Service, later said the fire most likely started from some electrical equipment in the premises.

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.