IMAGES: South African National Assembly, totally destroyed in fire

The South African National Assembly, where deputies meet in Cape Town, was completely destroyed in a fire this Sunday, the parliament spokesman told AFP.

“The chamber of deputies was totally destroyed by the flames,” said Moloto Mothapo, explaining that “the fire has not yet been extinguished.”

So far, the fire caused serious material damage, but no casualties have been reported.

Nor is the origin of the fire officially known, which started at around 03:00 GMT in the oldest wing of the building, although there is one person who was detained and is being “interrogated,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa, who visited the site. The information was confirmed by the police.

“The roof of the building that houses the National Assembly collapsed, there is nothing left,” the head of the city’s security services, Jean-Pierre Smith, told reporters hours earlier. “The entire building suffered significant damage from smoke and fire,” he added.

This historic site also houses a valuable collection of books and the original copy of the national anthem sung in Afrikaans during apartheid, “Die Stem Suid-Afrika” (The Voice of South Africa), which was also damaged.

The flames also devoured more recent parts of the building. Images broadcast by local televisions showed huge flames escaping from the roof of the imposing building with a red and white facade.

Nearby streets were cordoned off and dozens of firefighters are still trying to extinguish the fire.

A 51-year-old man has been arrested, accused of having caused the fire, although more details are unknown.

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