Fragments found in museum fire provide some hope


Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO

Firefighters found bone fragments from a collection in the still-smoldering National Museum, an official said Tuesday, raising hopes that a famed skull might somehow have survived a massive blaze that turned historic and scientific artifacts to ashes.

Flames tore through the museum Sunday night, and officials have said much of Latin America’s largest collection of treasures might be lost. Aerial photos of main building showed only heaps of rubble and ashes in the parts of the building where the roof collapsed.

The firefighters “found fragments of bones in a room where the museum kept many items, including skulls,” said Cristiana Serejo, the museum’s vice director. “We still have to collect them and take them to the lab to know exactly what they are.”

In its collection of about 20 million items, one of the most prized possessions is a skull called Luzia, which is among the oldest fossils ever found in the Americas.

Museum spokesman Marcio Martins noted that the collection contains hundreds of skulls, and all material would first need to be examined by the Federal Police, who are investigating the still-unknown cause of the fire. Experts will then examine them to determine their identity.

Some objects were rescued from the flames Sunday night by a professor who rushed into the blaze. Paulo Buckup, a professor of zoology at the museum, recounted Tuesday.

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