South Africa

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RTH10260
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South Africa

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South African Parliament Buildings ‘Gutted’ After Large Fire
Officials warned that the damage to the buildings would be extensive. A man was arrested on Sunday morning inside the parliamentary complex, Parliament’s spokesman said.

By Lynsey Chutel and Austin Ramzy
Jan. 2, 2022

CAPE TOWN — A large fire at South Africa’s Houses of Parliament on Sunday sent flames and smoke billowing from rooftops and fire crews racing to save the historic structures.

Officials said the fire spread from an office space on the third floor of a building adjacent to the old National Assembly building toward a gym and to rooftops. The scale of the destruction was not immediately clear, they said, but there were fires burning in “two very distinct areas,” and they warned that it was likely to be extensive.

Parliament’s spokesman, Moloto Mothapo, said on Sunday evening that a man in his early 50s was arrested inside the parliamentary complex on Sunday morning in connection to the fire, but he did not give any further details.

“The entire parliamentary complex is severely damaged — waterlogged and smoke damaged,” JP Smith, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, said, adding that “the roof above the old assembly hall is completely gone.”

“The second point of fire is the National Assembly building, which is gutted,” Mr. Smith said, referring to the building where the Parliament meets. “The structural ceiling has collapsed. The fire staff had to be momentarily withdrawn.”

Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service spokesman, Jermaine Carelse, warned that the buildings themselves were at risk of collapse, given the intense heat of the fire.

The roofing material was “even melting,” he said, according to the News24 website, adding, “There have been reports of some walls showing cracks.”

The fire was reported around 6 a.m. and was still burning late Sunday afternoon. No injuries or fatalities have been reported. Parliament was not in session because it had been closed for the holidays.




https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/02/worl ... ament.html


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