Huge library containing historic texts burns down in Moscow

A LIBRARY containing over 14 million books, historic texts and other important documents has gone up in flames in the Russian capital of Moscow.

The Academic Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences (INION) has 14.2m texts in ancient and modern languages and includes the biggest collection of Slavic language books in Russia.

It was founded in 1918 and holds documents from the League of Nations, UNESCO, and early parliamentary reports dating back as far as 1789.

A fire which started on the building's third floor spread over 2,000 square metres and caused extensive damage to the building and possibly its collection of literary artefacts, according to a report from Russian news agency Interfax.

According to Kremlin-owned broadcaster Russia Today a total of 147 rescue workers and 38 fire appliances were brought to the library to fight the fire, which has been contained.

The fire began around 10pm local time on the third floor of the institute. Pictures from the scene show extensive damage to the modernist building's roof.

A law enforcement source told the RIA Novosti news agency that "a short circuit in the electrical system is currently being regarded as a primary lead" in the cause of the fire.