The country's president has labelled it a "sad day for all Brazilians"

A huge fire has ripped through Brazil’s 200-year-old National Museum in Rio de Janeiro.

Firefighters have been battling the blaze since shortly before midnight Irish time.

The fire broke out when the museum was closed to visitors – at around 7pm local time and was “just about under control” around five hours later.

There are currently no reports of any injuries.

It remains unclear how the fire began.

People watch as flames engulf the 200-year-old National Museum of Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, 03-09-2018. Image: Leo Correa/AP/Press Association Images

In a post on Twitter, the country’s President Michel Temer said it was a "sad day for all Brazilians."

He said the damage was “incalculable” for Brazil.

“200 years of work, research and knowledge have been lost,” he said.

"The value of our history cannot be measured by the damage to the building that housed the royal family during the empire," he said.

The museum is known as one of the largest museums of natural history and anthropology in the Americas.

It housed a number of landmarks collections – including artefacts from Egypt, Greco-Roman art and some of the first fossils found in Brazil.

Rescue vehicles outside the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 02-09-2018. Image:  Li Ming/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images
 

Many of its collections came from members of Brazil's royal family.

The vice director of the museum, Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte, told Globo News that the museum has faced chronic underfunding.

"Everybody wants to be supportive now. We never had adequate support," he said.

The fire has already led to recriminations over budgets deficits in the city, with presidential candidate Marina Silva tweeting: "Unfortunately, given the financial straits of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and all the other public universities the last three years, this was a tragedy that could be seen coming.”

The presidential election is due to be held in October.

Flames engulf the 200-year-old National Museum of Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, 03-09-2018. Image: Leo Correa/AP/Press Association Images