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South African Parliament burns


A large fire tore through South Africa’s parliament in Cape Town on Sunday, causing the roof of one building to collapse and gutting the chamber of the National Assembly.

Images from the scene showed flames shooting out of the top of one building, sending plumes of thick black smoke into the sky above parliament and into neighboring streets.

Dozens of firefighters were at the scene battling the blaze, which broke out on Sunday morning and was still not under control by the afternoon. No injuries or fatalities have been reported.
The entire parliamentary complex is severely damaged, waterlogged and smoke damaged,” JP Smith, a Cape Town mayoral committee member responsible for safety and security, told a news conference in front of parliament.

“The roof above the Old Assembly hall is completely gone and the offices adjacent to it and the gym are destroyed,” Smith said. “The National Assembly chamber behind me, which you can see, is gutted, the structural ceiling has collapsed and the fire staff had to be momentarily withdrawn

The parliamentary complex, some of which dates back to 1884, consists of a cluster of buildings. The National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, is situated in what is known as the New Wing. The upper house, or National Council of Provinces, is located in what is called the Old Wing or Old Assembly, which is also used for committee meetings.

South Africa’s parliament said the fire had been contained in the Old Wing of the complex, but it was still burning in the New Wing.