Fire guts South African parliament building in Cape Town

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A major fire broke out at South Africa’s seat of parliament in Cape Town early Sunday, sending a thick column of smoke into the sky and threatening the National Assembly building.

The fire was believed to have started in one of the older buildings in the parliament precinct, leading to a security cordon nearby the cathedral where anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu was buried just hours before.

“The roof has caught fire and the National Assembly building is also on fire,” a spokesman for the city’s emergency services told AFP, requesting reinforcements at the scene.

“The fire is not under control and cracks in the walls of the building have been reported,” he added.

No one was believed to have been harmed and the cause of the blaze was not yet known.

Emergency services said that the “fire is currently on the third floor — initial reports indicate it started in the office space and is spreading toward the gymnasium”.

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