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Fire devastates major Russian library, threatens rare texts and ancient documents

Fire devastates major Russian library, threatens rare texts and ancient documents

A massive blaze has raged for more than 17 hours at one of Russia’s largest public libraries, destroying parts of the building.

The academic library, containing millions of unique historical documents, went up in flames in Moscow last night.

The fire started at around 10 pm local time (7 pm GMT) on the third floor of the Academic Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences (INION) in Moscow

The Mail Online reports: A fire at one of Russia’s largest public libraries has been raging for a day, threatening to destroy thousands of rare documents.

The Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences in south-west Moscow went up in flames late Friday. The emergency situations ministry said Saturday that more than 200 firefighters have been trying to extinguish the blaze ever since.

Yuri Pivovarov, the director of the institute which holds 10 million documents and texts, described the fire as a disaster. He said in remarks on Russian television the extent of the damage was still unclear but the main storage which contained rare medieval Slavic texts didn’t seem to be affected

Pivovarov says only a fraction of the collection has been digitalized. It wasn’t immediately clear how the blaze started.

According to preliminary data, the cause of the fire could have been a malfunction of the electrical system, a law-enforcement source told RIA Novosti news agency. “A short circuit in the electrical system is currently being regarded as a primary lead,” he said Saturday.

According to a report by RT : With 49,000 readers and 330 employees, INION is the largest research center in Russia in the fields of social sciences and humanities. Its collection consists of 14.2 million texts in both ancient and modern European and Asian languages, including rare 400-year-old editions. What’s more, it has one of the biggest collections of books in Slavic languages in the country.

The library, founded in 1918, also can boast the Russia’s most complete collection of documents of the League of Nations, the UN, and UNESCO, as well as parliamentarian reports of the United States (since 1789), the UK (since 1803), Italy (since 1897), and many others.