Europe

Fire rages through library in Moscow

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Media captionLibrary Director Yuri Pivovarov: "They saved the books"

A fire has destroyed parts of one of Russia's largest public libraries, containing more than 14 million items.

The blaze began late on Friday at the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences in a south-western district of the capital, Moscow.

The roof collapsed but the library's rare medieval Slavic texts appear undamaged.

The institute's director Yuri Pivovarov said firefighters had done "everything possible" to save the texts.

"What is important is that they saved the books, the books did not suffer," he said.

But Vladimir Fortov, president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said around 15% of the library's items were damaged, comparing it to a cultural Chernobyl, referring to the 1986 nuclear power plant accident in Ukraine.

"It's a major loss for science. This is the largest collection of its kind in the world, probably equivalent to the (United States) Library of Congress," he was quoted in Russian media as saying.

The cause of the blaze is unclear, but one source told the RIA Novosti news agency that an electrical short-circuit was the leading line of inquiry.

Over 200 firefighters worked at the scene to douse the blaze but could not prevent a section of roof collapsing before the fire was contained shortly after midnight. No-one was injured.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The cause of the blaze is as yet unclear
Image copyright AFP
Image caption No-one was reported to be injured

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