Devastating fire at the Royal Palaces of Abomey (Benin)
The Royal Palaces of Abomey in Benin were ravaged by a fire on 21 January 2009 which destroyed several buildings. A brushfire, whose origins are still uncertain, consumed the straw roof and framework of six buildings enclosing two temples to Agasu, as well as the tombs of King Agonglo, King Ghezo, and each king's 41 wives. The fire moved quickly due to the strong harmattan winds which are currently blowing in the area.
Despite the alarm raised and the immediate arrival of help, the six buildings were engulfed in flames, destroying the framework and damaging walls, electric wiring and bas-reliefs.
Emergency measures were taken by the national and local authorities and a short-term emergency restoration plan will be put in place to salvage the earthen structures before the next rainy season, expected in mid-March 2009.
The restoration plan includes drying the water damage from most of the temples and tombs concerned and the installation of fire hydrants. The World Heritage Centre has also encouraged the Beninese authorities to submit an international emergency assistance request to support the emergency works.
The fire has occurred after the Royal Palaces of Abomey were removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2007, following extensive restoration works.