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Europe's biggest fishtank wrecked

Flames and thick black smoke poured from the building.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (Reuters) -- More than a million of gallons of water flooded out of Europe's biggest fish tank Wednesday, threatening to kill most of its inhabitants after a fire ravaged the Danish museum in which it is housed.

"We know that some of the fish are still alive but some are dead because we can only see a few swimming about," the museum's chief biologist Henrik Flintegaard told Reuters.

"It's such a sad day. The worst day ever."

Fire raged through the North Sea Museum on Denmark's northwest coast through the night, damaging the walls of the Oceanarium, a 26-foot deep elliptical tank measuring 72 by 108 feet.

The tank holds about 1.2 million gallons of sea water and was home to around 4,000 fish, among them a specimen of the ocean sunfish, or mola mola, the world's largest known bony fish species.

Flintegaard said water was pouring out of the tank, and aquarium staff were unable to approach it.

Divers were expected to try to rescue the surviving fish, but until then, oxygen was being pumped in to the half-drained tank to keep them alive.

The Oceanarium's mola mola, which weighed 132 pounds as a baby and can weigh up to two tons when fully grown, has been one of the museum's top attractions since a local fisherman caught it and brought it to the museum in 2000.

Flintegaard said there was some hope of saving the Tope sharks housed in the tank but staff had not yet spotted the mola mola.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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