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[Annelida] Brazil National Museum fire

Geoff Read via annelida%40net.bio.net (by Geoffrey.Read from niwa.co.nz)
Tue Sep 4 21:39:58 EST 2018

Here is more viewpoint from a museum worker.  Suggest read that first, but also adding a link to a commentary and opinion piece put together by science writer Ed Yong.



From: Sponge biology and chemistry list <PORIFERA from JISCMAIL.AC.UK<mailto:PORIFERA from JISCMAIL.AC.UK>> On Behalf Of Guilherme Ramos da Silva Muricy
Sent: Wednesday, 5 September 2018 1:52 p.m.
Subject: Re: Rio Museum

Dear friends

Thank you all very much for your kind and warm messages of support, we really appreciated it in this terrible moment. We are totally devastated by this tragedy and we are still recovering from the shock of seeing Brazil's most popular museum and our beloved working place being destroyed. The scientific, cultural and historical losses are huge. Thousands of type specimens were lost, especially of the entomology and arachnology collections, together with millions of unique items of these and the anthropological, geological and palaeontological collections. Some people lost 40 years of hard work.

Fortunately the Library, the Botany and Vertebrate Zoology departments, the Porifera and Cnidaria laboratories, and some invertebrate collections including Porifera are located in separate buildings and were not touched by the fire. However, the energy in our building was cut off, and it is located so close to the palace that the access is now forbidden, because parts of the remaining walls and structures are still falling down. We have no idea when we will be able to work in our labs again, we can only hope it won't take too long.

But the worst thing is to see our colleagues who lost their whole labs and collections at once, and their students who lost all the specimens of their theses. Our first step is now to find place for them in the remaining labs - for instance, we will share the Porifera labs with the team of the Malacology lab, and so on.

We still don't know the cause of the fire, but the anti-fire measures and equipments were totally inefficient. The sprinklers and alarms didn't work, and there was almost no water in the hydrants in the first 40 min! All floors, roof and furniture were made of wood and there were no fire-cutting doors, so the flames spread very quickly.

It was an incredible luck that it happened on a Sunday night, when there were no visitors or any staff inside the building except for four security guys, so nobody was killed or injured. If it had happened during the working hours or just three hours before, tens or of people would probably have died, including many children. The tragedy would have been much worse.

Fernando and Eduardo already told you most of the story, but I must add that they demonstrated a lot of heroism in this episode. As soon as he heard about the fire, Fernando and some other members of the staff ran immediately to the museum and entered the building along with the firefighters to remove specimens and equipments from some labs while the fire consumed other rooms. They managed to save many type specimens of molluscs and crustaceans, and they left the building just 20 min before the upper floors collapsed over these labs.

In the next morning, while the main building was still in risk of collapsing and with parts of the walls falling down along the way, Eduardo and a few others volunteered to enter our energy-less building to check the situation in our labs and to remove the material in our freezers to other labs, especially the samples used by our students in their theses. Like Fernando, he put his life at risk to save the work of others.

So that's is the kind of heroic / crazy / stupid people we have here. I assure you that we will make all possible efforts to build up a new museum and to keep trying to make science in this poor country. Your help will be greatly appreciated, but we are still trying to figure out where to start. Donations of laboratory equipments and biological specimens of most invertebrate groups would probably be useful to start making new collections and labs to replace those lost in the fire. So maybe one way to help could be to ask your colleagues curators of entomology, malacology and arachnology collections to send us some specimens, if possible. It would be a great motivation for our specialists on these groups to begin rebuilding their collections.

We will soon let you know of others things you may help. For the time being, your friendship and solidarity are already a great help for us.
Best wishes


From: Joana Zanol <joanazanol from mn.ufrj.br>
Sent: Tuesday, 4 September 2018 1:55 p.m.
To: annelida from magpie.bio.indiana.edu; Geoff Read <Geoffrey.Read from niwa.co.nz>; Dimítri de Araújo Costa <dimitricostacg from gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Annelida] Brazil National Museum fire

Dear All,

I am deeply sorry to confirm what you have seen in the news. The museum was destroyed. It is all very hard to believe. The loss is immense and priceless. Thankfully nobody was hurt.

The polychaete collection and lab are safe and had no losses. They are in other buildings as well as collections of sponges, echinoderms, crustaceans, cnidarians, other invertebrates, all vertebrates, and the herbarium, which are safe and had no or very few losses. Many of the mollusc  types are also safe (they were saved by the collection technician).

All the exhibition is gone as well as all collections and labs of Anthropology, Archeology, Entomology and Paleontology Departments. In the Invertebrate Department, we have lost all arachnology and most of mollusc collection.

We are all devastated and joining strength to get back on our feet.


2018-09-03 20:59 GMT-03:00 Dimítri de Araújo Costa <dimitricostacg from gmail.com<mailto:dimitricostacg from gmail.com>>:
Some possible good news of hope:


We really have to be very careful.

Em seg, 3 de set de 2018 às 20:47, Geoff Read <Geoffrey.Read from niwa.co.nz<mailto:Geoffrey.Read from niwa.co.nz>>

> Thanks Dimítri.
> The aftermath of any building fire is so devastating. Let us all take
> extra care now at our workplaces.
> A further update here in a translated private message posted to the
> Crustacea list:
> "The buildings of the Departments of Vertebrates, Department of Botany,
> Main Library, Classrooms Pavilion, Archaeological Laboratory at Casa de
> Pedra, Annex Alipio de Miranda Ribeiro, and annex of the Service of
> Teaching Assistance collection were not reached. The survival of the Annex
> Alípio de Miranda Ribeiro is important, because it contained some
> collections of invertebrates and dipterologia. The main building (Palácio
> da Quinta da Boa Vista) was a total loss, with the possible exception of
> the collection of mollusc type material that I could help save thanks to
> Claudio (Collection Technician) who guided us through the darkness. The
> employees who participated in the grouping of the last moments are of
> course the courage and dedication, although we have managed to do very
> little.
> The major losses were the materials of the exhibition and the collections
> located in the main building: archive and historical collection, most of
> the entomological, anthropological collections, collections of arachnology,
> and crustaceans. The collection of paleontology and mineralogy may be
> partially salvaged if a careful work is done after the aftermath.
> From the collections of vertebrates, the copies of the old exhibitions
> that would be incorporated in the new exhibition have been lost, but most
> of the scientific collection is preserved.”
> Geoff
> From: Dimítri de Araújo Costa <dimitricostacg from gmail.com<mailto:dimitricostacg from gmail.com>>
> Sent: Tuesday, 4 September 2018 11:15 a.m.
> To: Geoff Read <Geoffrey.Read from niwa.co.nz<mailto:Geoffrey.Read from niwa.co.nz>>
> Cc: annelida from magpie.bio.indiana.edu<mailto:annelida from magpie.bio.indiana.edu>
> Subject: Re: [Annelida] Brazil National Museum fire
> Hello Geoffrey,
> Professor, it seems that really a good part of the invertebrate collection
> has been saved, according to the report of Prof. Eduardo Hadju (follow the
> video link below).
> Source:
> https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=568041580279747&id=192082700822521
> Despite the unrecoverable tragedy, we may have some news of hope in the
> face of this tragedy.
> Regards
> Em seg, 3 de set de 2018 às 20:08, Geoff Read <Geoffrey.Read from niwa.co.nz<mailto:Geoffrey.Read from niwa.co.nz>
> <mailto:Geoffrey.Read from niwa.co.nz<mailto:Geoffrey.Read from niwa.co.nz>>> escreveu:
> Dear all,
> This is terrible news for Brazilian natural sciences.
> https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/03/fire-engulfs-brazil-national-museum-rio
> Photos indicate total destruction by fire of the Rio de Janeiro
> 200-year-old National Museum on Sunday, 2 September 2018.  I've seen
> amazing photos of museum people coming from the burning building rescuing
> collection items - so brave of them.  We can only hope some or a lot of the
> biology collections will have been warehoused elsewhere, as museums tend to
> do for space reasons. If you know more about this aspect please update us.
> And ... "Museum officials and firefighters were able to salvage part of
> the collection, removed before being hit by fire. One of the saved parts
> was the collection of types of malacology"  How accurate this claim is I
> don't know.
> From:
> https://noticias.uol.com.br/ultimas-noticias/agencia-estado/2018/09/02/predio-do-museu-nacional-nao-corre-risco-de-desabar-segundo-os-bombeiros.htm
> Just as a tiny indication of the possible loss here are the Brazil MN
> Polychaeta holotypes we have actually data-entered at WoRMS.  It's probably
> only recent registrations.
>     Holotype MN 23384, locality Rio Grande do Sul, identified as Hyalella
> imbya Rodrigues & Bueno, 2012
>     Holotype MN MHN-BPO 14/0, identified as Kirkia heterobranchiata
> Nogueira, López & Rossi, 2004
>     Holotype MN MN 9571-Ia,, locality Palmeira, identified as Annulitubus
> mutveii Vinn, Zabini, Sene-Silva, Kirsimae & Susan-Marcos, 2016
>     Holotype MN MNRJ 5859, locality Brazil Southeast, identified as
> Arturia alcatraziensis (Lanna, Rossi, Cavalcanti, Hajdu & Klautau, 2007)
>     Holotype MN MNRJ/P455, locality Campos Basin, identified as Lacydonia
> anapaulae Rizzo, Magalhães & Santos, 2016
>     Holotype MN MNRJ/P456, locality Campos Basin, identified as Lacydonia
> braziliensis Rizzo, Magalhães & Santos, 2016
>     Holotype MN MNRJ/P457, locality Campos Basin, identified as Lacydonia
> jacki Rizzo, Magalhães & Santos, 2016
>     Holotype MN MNRJ/P771, locality Pará, identified as Namalycastis
> caetensis Alves & Santos, 2016
> Geoff Read


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