South Africa Parliament fire: Roof of old National Assembly building collapses, no casualties yet

South Africa Parliament fire: Jean-Pierre Smith, Cape Town's mayoral committee member for safety and security said, "The roof of the Old Assembly building has collapsed and is gone."

Created On: Jan 4, 2022 15:35 IST
South Africa Parliament fire: Roof of old National Assembly building collapses, no casualties yet
South Africa Parliament fire: Roof of old National Assembly building collapses, no casualties yet

South African Parliament fire: There was a massive fire at South Africa's Parliament in Cape Town on January 2, 2022. The fire caused the roof of the old national assembly to collapse. The fire also spread to the wing housing the current National Assembly, where parliament sits. No casualties were reported. 

The fire was declared under control after a long struggle but smokes and flames re-emerged from the upper floors of the South African Parliament on January 3, 2022. South Africa's police suspect arson and reportedly charged a man for starting the fire. 

South African Parliament fire

The South African Parliament fire had broken out at around 5 am on January 2, 2022. The fire had reportedly started in the wood-paneled older part of the complex, a section that houses South Africa's first parliament and some of the nation's most cherished artifacts. It then spread to the new assembly, where legislators convene. 

The fire was brought under control after a long struggle that stretched into the night. Around 70 firefighters deployed to tame the fire. It, however, restarted in a part of the complex, the roof of the building housing the National Assembly, in late afternoon on January 3rd. There were only a dozen firefighters at that time and around 50 more had to be rushed in to control the fire. 

The city's Fire and Rescue Service had said in a statement, "The wind has been getting steadily stronger and ignited the smoldering wood inside the roof void space, parts of which are not accessible for dousing or dampening."

Jean-Pierre Smith, Cape Town's mayoral committee member for safety and security said, "The roof of the Old Assembly building has collapsed and is gone." Smith said that the entire complex has suffered damage, both from the fire and the tonnes of water used to fight it.

Spokesman Jermaine Carelse said, "The most damage is in the national assembly that won't be used for months. No casualties were reported but the damage is catastrophic."

What caused the fire?

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa informed that a man has been arrested and also informed that the building's sprinkler systems had failed. 

The arrested 49-year-old man is expected to be brought before the court. He has been charged with "housebreaking, arson" and damaging state property.

South Africa Parliament Building- Background

The old Parliament building of South Africa was built in 1884. The historic section houses the assembly and some cherished treasures including 4,000 heritage and artworks, some dating back to the 17th century. 

The artifacts include rare books and an original copy of the former Afrikaans national anthem "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika" (The Voice of South Africa). The copy was already damaged. 

The section also includes a Keiskamma tapestry, which measures 120 metres in length, that traces the history of South Africa from the first indigenous peoples, the San, to the historic 1994 democratic elections.

The authorities are yet to fully determine the true extent of the damage, as it is still too hot. 

This is the same parliament where South Africa's last apartheid-era president, FW de Klerk, had announced plans to dismantle white-minority rule in 1990.

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एग्जाम की तैयारी के लिए ऐप पर वीकली टेस्ट लें और दूसरों के साथ प्रतिस्पर्धा करें। डाउनलोड करें करेंट अफेयर्स ऐप

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