A large fire has severely damaged the Houses of Parliament in the city of Cape Town, South Africa. Video footage showed a plume of black smoke filling the sky, with huge flames coming out from the roof of the building. President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the scene and called it a terrible and devastating event. A man was being held and questioned by the authorities, he said. The blaze, which began shortly after 06:00 local time (04:00 GMT), came the day after Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s state funeral at St George’s Cathedral, near parliament.
Praising firefighters, Mr. Ramaphosa said they had responded to the fire in six minutes. Without their intervention the National Assembly would have been reduced to ashes, he added. Dozens of firefighters battled the flames. Officials later said that the entire parliamentary complex was severely damaged. It is also reported that nobody is injured and there’s no indication of what may have started it.
Fire and rescue service officials said it could take several more hours to put the fire out completely because of the carpets and wooden floors in the building. 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.