CAIRO - Egypt has lost an important part of its cultural heritage after important manuscripts and up to 200,000 books were destroyed by fire in the building of the Egyptian Scientific Institute in Cairo.
A piece of Egypt’s "national treasure" and "rare history" is gone, the country’s prime minister said in his statement. State television reported that the fire damaged the whole building and all its collections. The total damage is yet to be determined. The fire started on Saturday after protesters threw Molotov cocktails into the neighboring Shura Council building. The fire spread to the museum and although the flames were eventually extinguished, firefighters took a long time to arrive at the site and get the fire under control.
The fire destroyed or damaged rare maps and historical documents, including a first edition copy of the Description de l’Egypte, started under Napoleon Bonaparte by French scientists, which had been carefully stored and preserved for over 200 years. The institute was established as L'Institute d’Egypte in August 1798 by Napoleon Bonaparte, and is considered to be the oldest one in Egypt.