South African Parliament Chamber where lawmakers sit destroyed by fire

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The fire in the South African parliament has still not been extinguished.

The cap:

A massive fire destroyed South Africa’s parliament on Sunday as police said a suspect would appear in court within a week because of the blaze.

An investigation has been opened into the fire which broke out on Sunday around 03:00 GMT in the oldest wing of the parliamentary complex, completed in 1884 and with wood-paneled rooms.

At dawn, smoke billowed from the building against a blue sky.

“The whole hall where the members sit (…) has burned down,” said parliament spokesman Moloto Mothapo, adding that the blaze had still not been extinguished and that two fires had apparently been started in two. separate areas of the enclosure.

No casualties were reported.

President Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters at the scene that a man had been detained and the building’s sprinkler systems had apparently failed.

Later Sunday, police announced that a 51-year-old suspect was scheduled to appear in court.

“A man was arrested inside the parliament, he is still being questioned. We have opened a criminal case. He was arrested and will appear in court on Tuesday,” police spokeswoman Thandi Mbambo said.

The historic parliament building houses a collection of rare books and the original copy of the old Afrikaans national anthem “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” (“The Voice of South Africa”), which was already damaged.

“The roof of the old assembly building collapsed and disappeared,” Jean-Pierre Smith, member of the Cape Town Mayor’s Committee for Safety and Security, told reporters.

“The whole building suffered extensive smoke and water damage,” Smith said, adding that “the fire has not been brought under control”.

After ravaging the older wing of the building, the flames spread to new parts of the complex that are currently in use.

“Firefighters are currently trying to control the blaze in the new wing, where the blaze has affected the National Assembly Hall,” Mothapo said in an online press conference earlier today.

A few meters from Tutu’s funeral

A fire team that was supposed to arrive first on the scene battled the flames for several hours before being forced to retreat and call for reinforcements.

About 70 firefighters were then deployed, some using a crane to spray water on the blaze.

The former mayor of Cape Town and current minister Patricia de Lille warned that it would take several more hours before the fire was brought under control.

Inside the rooms, fine showers of gray ash fell from the ceiling to the floor, already strewn with debris.

Emergency services said they fear the fire could quickly spread to the old rooms, which are decorated with wood, thick rugs and curtains.

Images broadcast on television had previously shown giant flames leaping from the roof.

The area around the fire in the upscale neighborhood was quickly cordoned off.

The cordon extended to a plaza where flowers were still displayed in front of nearby St. George’s Cathedral, where the funeral of anti-apartheid icon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, took place on Saturday.

After a simple, unadorned mass, with an inexpensive coffin – as instructed by the famous Tutu – his ashes were laid to rest in the cathedral on Sunday.

Second fire in a year

Cape Town has been home to the South African Houses of Parliament since 1910, when separate administrations formed a union under British rule and became a predecessor of the modern South African Republic.

The site includes the National Assembly and the upper house of the National Council of Provinces, while the government is based in Pretoria.

It was in parliament that South Africa’s last apartheid president, FW de Klerk, announced in 1990 his intention to dismantle the brutal white minority regime.

The Houses of Parliament consist of three sections, the most recent of which were built in the 1920s and 1980s.

The presidents of parliament were to meet with Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille on Monday to take stock of the damage.

In March, another fire also broke out in the old wings of parliament, but it was quickly brought under control.

Cape Town suffered another major fire in April, when a fire on the famous Table Mountain overlooking the city spread, devastating part of the University of Cape Town library which houses a unique collection of African archives.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)



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