A huge fire has gutted the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, the oldest scientific institution in the country.
Most of its collection, including fossils, artworks and documents spanning centuries, is believed to have been destroyed in the inferno as firefighters battle to put out the blaze.
The museum, which once served as the residence for the Portuguese royal family, celebrated its 200th anniversary this year. No injuries have been reported.
Among the 20 million items it housed were archaeological artefacts, fossils and the largest meteorite discovered in the country.
The natural history collection included dinosaur bones and a 12,000-year-old skeleton of a woman known as “Luzia”, the oldest ever found in the Americas.
While it is not yet clear what started the fire, local reports say it began on Sunday evening, after the facility had closed for the day.
Aerial images broadcast on Brazilian television showed it spreading throughout the building.
BREAKING: The National Museum of #Brazil in #Rio is completely consumed in fire. Founded in 1818, the museum is the holder of over 20 million items, including mummies, meteorites, insects, & fossils. So sad to see history in flames 🙁
— Justin Fleenor 🔁 (@JustinFleenor) September 3, 2018
Brazil’s President Michel Temer said in a tweet that it was a “sad day for all Brazilians” as “200 years of work, research and knowledge were lost”.