A massive fire broke out at the National Museum of Natural History in FICCI building in central Delhi in the wee hours of Tuesday.
The fire broke out around 1.45 am on the top floor of the museum, located in FICCI Building in Mandi House, where some repair work was underway.
It quickly spread to all other floors of the building.
Established in 1972, the National Museum of Natural History in New Delhi is one of two museums focusing on nature in India. It functions under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said that it was an unfortunate event and ordered an energy and fire audit of all the 34 museums across the country, reported The Indian Express.
"“I have given orders to conduct a safety audits of museums under our jurisdiction, so that loss of precious artefacts and exhibits can be avoided,” Javadekar was reported as saying in The Indian Express.
According to a report in Hindustan Times, Javadekar said,"This incident is very tragic. The Natural History Museum is a national treasure. I have talked to the fire officials and they are present at the site. We will see and access the loss that has taken place."
Javadekar further said that the museum was a FICCI property which was rented out by the Ministry and hence there were some limitations, The Indian Express reported. The Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change added that the loss is great and that it can only be assessed when the building is handed back to the Ministry.
As many as 35 fire tenders were pressed into service. It took firefighters more than four hours to douse the blaze after which a cooling operation was launched which lasted for another few hours, a fire official said.
The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, a senior police official said.
There were not too many people in the building, which was evacuated by the time fire officials reached at the scene.
Six fire officials were rushed to hospital after they inhaled excessive smoke during the operation. Their condition is said to be stable now, the official said.
Top officials of the police range and Delhi Fire Services rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation. The damage caused by the fire is being estimated.
With inputs from PTI