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September 3, 2018

A fire that broke out in Brazil's oldest museum on Sunday night is believed to have destroyed many of the 20 million items in its collection, The Guardian reports. The National Museum, in Rio de Janeiro, is 200 years old, and scholars had complained for years about its underfunding and desperate need for repairs.

The fire "is an unbearable catastrophe," said Luiz Duarte, a vice-director of the museum. "It is 200 years of this country's heritage. It is 200 years of memory. It is 200 years of science. It is 200 years of culture, of education." The museum's collection included priceless items such as Egyptian artifacts, the oldest human skeleton in the Americas, and the largest meteorite ever found in Brazil. Jeva Lange

August 9, 2018

California's Mendocino Complex fire, which this week became the largest wildfire in the state's history, has burned through hundreds of thousands of acres. Much of the land in California has been scorched in recent weeks as 18 separate fires continue to grow, only about 40 percent contained.

Years of drought have primed the state for some truly horrific blazes, and officials say the Northern California fire might continue to burn until September. Below, four photos that show just how breathtakingly destructive the Mendocino Complex fire has become. Summer Meza

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August 5, 2018
Taos County Sheriff's Office via AP

After an armed standoff on Friday, eight members of the Taos County Sheriff's Office rescued 11 children living in a dilapidated makeshift compound in Amalia, New Mexico.

The children, between the ages of 1 and 15, are now in protective custody. The officers went to the compound as part of the search to find a missing 3-year-old boy from Georgia, believed to have been kidnapped by his father, Siraj Wahhaj. Armed with a search warrant, the officers found five adults, including Wahhaj, and 11 children at the compound. Wahhaj was armed and refused to comply with commands. He had to be "physically" taken down, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told ABC News Radio, and was arrested, along with another man identified as Lucas Morten.

Hogrefe said the compound did not have any running water or electricity, and the kids "looked like third-world country refugees. I've been a cop for 30 years. I've never seen anything like this. Unbelievable. These children were hungry, they were thirsty, they were filthy." They had no shoes, wore "rags" for clothing, and exhibited poor hygiene, Hogrefe said. There were three women at the compound, believed to be the mothers of the children, and they were potentially "brainwashed" by the men, Hogrefe said. None of the adults would tell the officers anything about the missing toddler, and they are now investigating any connection the women might have to the abduction case, ABC News reports. Catherine Garcia

February 8, 2018
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Jill Messick, a studio executive, producer, and former manager of actress Rose McGowan, died by suicide, her family confirmed Thursday. She was 50.

In a blistering statement, Messick's family said she had privately battled depression for years, and after her name came up as part of the scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein and allegations of sexual misconduct made against him, it "broke" her. "Seeing her name in headlines again and again, as part of one person's attempt to gain more attention for her personal cause, along with Harvey's desperate attempt to vindicate himself, was devastating for her," the family said.

Messick was McGowan's manager in 1997, the year the actress alleges Weinstein raped her in his hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival. Messick's family said she learned about an encounter between McGowan and Weinstein, and "alerted her bosses to the horrific experience which Rose suffered." Messick believed the matter had been settled when McGowan continued to make movies with Weinstein, her family said, and "never knew any details until recently, when Rose elected to make them public." McGowan has accused Hollywood of protecting Weinstein and ignoring allegations of abuse against him.

Messick also worked at Weinstein's Miramax from 1997 to 2003 as a production executive, and in January, Weinstein's legal team released a statement that included a quote attributed to Messick, which backed his version of events: that his encounter with McGowan was consensual. "It broke Jill," her family said. Messick is survived by two children and her partner, Dan Schuck. Catherine Garcia

October 10, 2017

Grim aerial photos taken above Santa Rosa, California, show how a fire that swept through one neighborhood completely destroyed dozens of houses.

The Los Angeles Times tweeted out the before and after images on Monday night — prior to the blaze, the homes were lined up in neat rows, surrounded by lush green vegetation, and now, they have been reduced to rubble, with just a few trees still standing. There are at least 14 fires raging across Northern California, leaving 10 people dead and burning down more than 1,500 structures. Catherine Garcia

August 24, 2017
David McNew/Getty Images

A maintenance worker at the University of Southern California made a disturbing discovery on Wednesday: The decomposing body of a graduate student.

The body of Jacob Kelley, a first-year grad student in the Master of Science and Medical Physiology program at the Keck School of Medicine, was found inside a room at the Seaver Residence Hall Wednesday, after the maintenance worker smelled a foul odor, USC police said Thursday. Coroner officials said there were no signs of foul play, and it may have been an accidental death.

Kelley's body appeared to have been in the room for around seven days, USC officials said, and the investigation is ongoing. "It's scary," USC student Laila Fard told ABC Los Angeles. "I thought they had roommates that would find stuff like that, so, it's scary that they don't check up on the students." Catherine Garcia

March 7, 2017
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Keepers at the Thoiry Zoo in France made a disturbing discovery on Tuesday morning, when they found a 4-year-old white rhino shot dead inside his enclosure.

Police say one of his horns had been hacked off with a chainsaw, and the other was partially removed. The rhino, Vince, was just 5 years old, and had been shot in the head three times. The poachers broke into the zoo overnight, and it's believed this is the first time a rhino was killed inside a European zoo.

On the black market, rhino horns can command $30,000 a pound; in some countries, including Vietnam, it is considered an aphrodisiac, the BBC reports. The white rhino was on the brink of extinction in the late 19th century, but slowly made a comeback, although now about 100 rhinos are killed in the wild every month for their horns. Two other rhinos at the Thoiry Zoo, 37-year-old Gracie and 5-year-old Bruno, were not harmed during the attack. Catherine Garcia

November 16, 2016
Stefan Heunis/AFP/Getty Images

Since 2009, the Boko Haram insurgency has displaced millions of people and disrupted farming and trade in northeastern Nigeria, and now an estimated 14 million people in the country need humanitarian aid.

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator, Peter Lundberg, said Tuesday that 400,000 children are in critical need of food, and 75,000 could starve to death "in the few months ahead of us." In September, at least 10 people a day were dying of starvation in a camp for displaced people near Maiduguri. The U.N. does not have enough money to fully combat the crisis, and said Nigerian philanthropists, international partners, and the private sector must help in any way they can. Boko Haram is still active in northeastern Nigeria, routinely conducting suicide attacks. Catherine Garcia

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