Blaze guts Delhi museum housing dinosaur fossil

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A fire on Tuesday damaged a museum of natural history in the Indian capital that had scores of exhibits of plants and animals, among them a 160-million-year-old dinosaur fossil.

More than a hundred firemen battled for about three hours to douse the flames that broke out early on Tuesday on the top floor of the National Museum of Natural History.

“The damage is huge,” said Rajesh Panwar, deputy chief of the Delhi Fire Service, adding that some part of the museum was being renovated and that its fire fighting system was out of operation.

“If the fire provisions were working, the fire could have been controlled well in time,” he added.

Among the museum specimens was a 160-million-year-old dinosaur bone, the Times of India newspaper reported.

The extent of the damage would only be known once fire officials hand back the building to the department that manages the museum, said federal Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who ordered a safety review of India’s state-run museums.

The museum, in the heart of New Delhi, is popular with school children, but the fire broke out several hours before opening time.

Reporting by Malini Menon; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Clarence Fernandez