A large fire , which the firefighters try to put out, was declared this Sunday at the headquarters of the South African Parliament, in Cape Town. “The roof caught fire and the National Assembly building also caught fire,” said a spokesman for the city's security, who called for reinforcements.
“The fire has not been controlled and there are cracks in the walls,” he added. At the moment no victims have been reported and the origin of the fire is still unknown.“The fire is currently on the third floor and the first signs suggest that it started in the offices before spreading to the gym,” said the emergency services.
The fire started in an old Parliament building around three in the morning. In the early morning, flames and smoke were visible above the building, AFP journalists reported. In this massive red brick, white-fronted Victorian building, the last apartheid-era president, Frederik de Klerk, had announced the end of the racist regime in February 1990.
The current “National Assembly is safe for the moment,” former Cape Town Mayor and current Minister Patricia de Lille told reporters. The emergency teams are “controlling the situation,” he said.
A few hours after the fire was visible from the highway, backup fire trucks arrived.From a crane, firefighters with water hoses tried to calm the flames.
Emergency services fear that the fire will spread rapidly in the rooms of the building, decorated with rich carpets and curtains.
Security extends to the esplanade of nearby St. George's Cathedral, where there are still flowers in honor of the anti-apartheid hero Desmond Tutu, whose funeral was held here on Saturday.
Cape Town already suffered a major fire in April, on Table Mountain, which destroyed the treasures of the library of a prestigious university.
Cape Town is the seat of Parliament, made up of the National Assembly and an upper house called the Council National of Provinces. The government is based in Pretoria.