Tens of thousands of priceless artifacts, including a 12,000-year-old skeleton, were feared destroyed when a massive fire swept through Brazil’s National Museum in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday night. The 200-year-old museum held artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greco-Roman art, dinosaur fossils and the oldest human skeleton ever found in the Americas, as well as items from Brazilian history. In all, the museum reportedly held more than 20 million items. No one was reported injured in the blaze, which started after the museum had closed. In a statement, Brazil’s President Michel Temer said it was “a sad day for all Brazilians. . . 200 years of work, investigation and knowledge have been lost.” The museum was once the palace of Brazil’s royal family. The cause of the blaze was not yet known, but museum employees had reportedly complained about funding shortfalls and the dilapidated condition of the building.
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