Major blaze rips through South Africa parliament

A large fire is raging at the Houses of Parliament in the South African city of Cape Town.

Video footage shows a plume of black smoke filling the sky, with huge flames coming out from the roof of the building.

Dozens of firefighters are at the site battling the blaze; it is not yet clear what caused the fire.

It comes hours after Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s state funeral at St George’s Cathedral, near parliament. The smoke from the blaze could be seen from several miles away

The roof area had caught fire and the part of the complex where the National Assembly (lower house) meets was on fire too, the city authorities initially said.

Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille later said the fire in the Chamber of the Council of Provinces (the parliament’s upper house) had been contained, but the National Assembly was still burning:

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A member of the Cape Town mayoral committee for safety and security, JP Smith, told reporters the roof had partially collapsed and that the fire detection alarm did not sound at the start of the fire:

“The roof of the building has collapsed on the one side and the fire has spread to the new assembly, according to the officers.

“They’ve detected large cracks in the wall, which is of concern.

“The firefighters report that they were on scene for some time before the fire detection system first triggered and then sounded the alert. So it does appear that that system was somewhat delayed.”

Firefighters work among the smoke after a fire broke out in the Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, on 2 January 2022IMAGE SOURCE,REUTERS
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Dozens of firefighters are at the scene

The parliament is not currently in session because of the holidays.

The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town are made up of three sections, with the oldest dating back to 1884. The newer sections built in the 1920s and 1980s house the National Assembly.

Last year, a fire ravaged part of the University of Cape Town’s library, which was home to a unique collection of African archives.


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