Ancient Torah scroll's lucky escape from Rio museum fire

People watch as a massive fire engulfs the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil on Sept. 2 2018

People watch as a massive fire engulfs the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil on Sept. 2 2018. STR—AFP Getty Images

For some, it meant the disintegration of a career.

"200 years of work, research and knowledge were lost..."

"An incalculable loss", is the way that Brazil's President Michel Temer described the blaze that burned through approximately 90% of the contents of one of Brazil's most important museums.

For others, it means an immeasurable blow to Brazil's cultural memory.

"This fire is what Brazilian politicians are doing to the people", said Rosana Hollanda, a 35-year-old high school history teacher, who was crying.

Brazil's National Museum had a long history to cherish.

The burning down of Brazil's national museum and the obliteration of a significant share of the heritage of humanity stands as an indictment of a world capitalist system and a Brazilian national bourgeoisie that subordinates all questions of social policy to the imperative that a handful of individuals continues to accumulate enormous riches.

The museum was due to receive funding next month to improve fire safety measures as well as other renovations, according to CNN. "It is a pitiful tragedy".

Vultures fly over Brazil's National Museum days after a fire tore through the structure in Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 5, 2018.

"It was the biggest natural history museum in Latin America". The 19th-century palace that was its main building was once home to the Portuguese royal family and a short-lived Brazilian imperial dynasty. The complex was used as the residence of independent Brazil's emperors till 1889.

"It's a crime that the museum was allowed to get to this shape", said Laura Albuquerque, a 29-year-old dance teacher who was in a crowd protesting outside the gates.

The museum's budget had fallen from around $130,000 in 2013 to around $84,000 previous year, according to Marcio Martins, a spokesman for the museum. The pieces ended up in Rio because they were sent all over the world as part of exchanges, including ones between the Berlin Museum and Rio that took place during the 1870s and 1880s.

It's still unclear what caused the fire. Authorities speculated that a paper balloon carrying a puny flame may also neutral personal landed on the museum's roof.

According to the New York Times, investigators are also looking into whether a short circuit in one of the institution's laboratories could have triggered the fire. "This is an old building ... with a lot of flammable material, lots of wood and the documents and the archive itself", he added.

But while the flames have been subdued, they stoked Brazilians' ire.

Roberto Leher, rector of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said it was well known that the building was vulnerable to fire and in need of extensive repairs. The Associated Press reports that the fire department "got off to a slow start" because of malfunctioning fire hydrants; fire trucks were forced to retrieve water from a nearby lake.

"The corruption that affects our health, our education, makes me sick", Natan Campos, a street sweeper who works in the environs of the museum, told the Times. "However the sensation I the truth is personal about the museum is sadness".

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