An overnight fire at India's National Museum of Natural History has destroyed many rare specimens and exhibits. The country's environment minister called the loss "tragic."
Thirty-five fire engines worked throughout the night to put out the blaze, which started early Tuesday on the sixth floor before spreading throughout the state-run museum.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said the damage to one of India's top museums was a tragic loss that could not be quantified in monetary terms. The museum houses rare collections of plants, animals and minerals.
"This is a real loss. This loss cannot be counted in rupees. Some very old species of flora and fauna were there," Javadekar told reporters.
Authorities are still assessing the extent of the damage.
Javadekar immediately ordered a fire safety audit of 34 major museums around the country.
The fire department said five firefighters were briefly hospitalized after suffering from smoke inhalation.
Opened in 1978, the museum has regional centers and provides educational and teacher programs in natural history.
cw/kms (AFP, AP)