Fire guts National Museum of Natural History in New Delhi

A huge blaze has gutted a museum in central New Delhi, a fire official tells CNN.

The fire heavily damaged a central Delhi building, which houses both the National Museum of Natural History and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Rajesh Panwar, Delhi’s deputy fire chief told CNN.

The fire started around 2 a.m. Tuesday (4.30 p.m Monday ET) and destroyed six floors of the building. The museum, which opened in 1978, is renting the space from the FICCI.

India’s Minister of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar went to the site of the blaze Tuesday morning.

“He has said that we will make an assessment and see what artifacts have been damaged,” a ministry spokesperson told CNN, but added that the assessment won’t be in place until Monday. “Once we have that in hand we will then look into how to restore any damaged artifacts.”

He has also ordered an energy and fire audit of all the establishments that fall under the Ministry.

‘Tragic loss’

The Times of India reports that Javadekar called the fire a tragedy.

“This is tragic, the Natural History Museum is a national treasure…the loss cannot be counted in rupees” he said.

Deputy fire chief Panwar reported that, by early afternoon Tuesday, the fire was under control. He said he expected fire crews to withdraw shortly.

More than 110 firefighters were sent to fight the blaze and six of them were injured during the operation. They were hospitalized and are in stable condition.

No one was inside the building when the blaze started, a statement from the FICCI read, and the cause of the fire is being investigated. It added that the FICCI offices and the organization’s auditorium were unaffected.

Earlier in April, scores were killed in a huge blaze caused by a fireworks disaster at a temple in Kerala state in southern India.

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