The Parliament of South Africaremains on fire hours after a fire broke out early this Sunday, as South African police confirmed that a suspect is being questioned about the incident.
“I can confirm that a 51-year-old man has been detained for questioning regarding the fire today in Parliament.” Police spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo told local media.
The causes of the fire, which broke out early this Sunday, are not yet known.
Authorities believe that the fire started in the oldest building in the compound (the “Old Assembly”), whose construction ended in 1884, and later spread to the section that houses the National Assembly, the lower house of the South African Parliament, where the fire it is still active right now.
According to Jermaine Carelse, spokesman for the Cape Town Fire and Rescue service, emergency crews were notified of the fire around 0600 local time (0400 GMT).
A first contingent of 36 firefighters, authorities confirmed this morning, was forced to call in reinforcements after hours trying to put out the fire without success and, later, some 70 troops were deployed.
The country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, visited the site to assess the damage.
“It is a devastating and terrible event, particularly after I have given the ‘arch’ (affectionate nickname of South Africans for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu) what I would call the best possible farewell yesterday,” declared the president to the media, referring to the state funeral held this Saturday after the death of Tutu on December 26.
According to the Head of Security for the Cape Town City Council, Jean-Pierre Smith, “the entire (Parliament) building has suffered extensive damage from smoke and water.”
The roof of the oldest section of the compound “collapsed”, as confirmed by Smith, and the fire has also destroyed the third floor of this building, including the offices and the gym.
Through images shared by citizens on social networks, they have been able to see large flames and a huge smoke that rises above the building.
Cape Town already experienced another traumatic fire last April, when a fire broke out on the famous Table Mountain, which is part of the homonymous national park.
The fire later spread to the campus of the University of Cape Town (UCT) and tore through its historic Jagger Library, burning thousands of valuable ancient books and manuscripts about the African continent.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.