politics

Major fire devastates South Africa’s Parliament

Major fire devastates South Africa’s Parliament

A major fire devastated South Africa’s parliament building, with heavy damage to the historic site in the center of Cape Town. JP Smith, a member of Cape Town’s local city council in charge of safety and security, said fire services were first alerted shortly after 6 a.m. local time on Sunday, after plumes of smoke began to fill the air in the section of the building known as the Old Assembly. Hours later the building was still burning, as more than 70 firefighters continued to fight the blaze. Police said they have taken a 51-year-old man into custody for questioning, but didn’t release any further details. South African authorities said the cause of the fire is still unknown. The flames spread from the Old Assembly into working parts of the parliamentary building that include offices and the gymnasium area, gutting it completely and causing the roof to collapse, said Jermaine Carelse, spokesman for Cape Town’s fire and rescue service. In the National Assembly area, built in the 1920s, the ceiling collapsed and the thick smoke posed risks to the firefighters. The building complex is a designated heritage site in the Cape Town city center and is the main working legislative site of the South African government. A previous fire at the Old Assembly last March damaged several areas including offices and committee rooms. “This is devastating news, said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in remarks to the media, adding that the sprinkler system in the building didn’t appear to work properly. The president’s annual state-of-the-nation address is normally delivered in February at the parliament. Another venue is likely to be needed for the coming address by Mr. Ramaphosa. Themba Gubula, spokesman of a large union, said that security personnel at the parliament were told not to work overtime over the holidays because of budget constraints. This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text Download.

politics 2022-01-03 Livemint