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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 September, 2004, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Library fire 'worse than thought'
The fire broke out on 2 September
A fire which ripped through a historic library in Germany destroyed many more rare books than previously thought.

Despite attempts by volunteers to rescue as many books as possible from Weimar's Duchess Anna Amalia Library, 50,000 were still irreparably damaged.

"The damages are much more terrible than we thought on the night of the fire," said Hellmut Seemann, president of the library's foundation.

The library housed books from the 16th, 17th and 18th Century.

As well as the 50,000 destroyed books, up to 62,000 were damaged - about 20% of the library's collection.

It is estimated it could cost up to 60 million euros (41m) to restore them, which may take up to seven years.

Human chain

There were also 37 paintings completely destroyed by the blaze, including a 1760 portrait of Countess Anna Amalia by Johann Friedrich Loeber.

Another 100 paintings and 80 sculptures were also damaged, but it is hoped they will eventually be restored.

Library director Michael Knoche said the names of the books lost in the fire will be made available to the public through its website.

When people were alerted to the fire on 2 September they formed a human chain to carry out as many books as possible, before the building became too unstable to continue.

One of the books that was saved, thanks to the volunteers, was a 1534 Martin Luther bible.

The cause of the blaze, which started on the top floor of the library, housed in a 16th Century palace, has yet to be determined.

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