Firefighters battle blaze at S.African parliament

A fire broke out at the South African parliament in Cape Town on Sunday (January 2), causing extensive damage to the complex.

Firefighters tackled the blaze for several hours.

By mid-morning, the smoke had started to subside.

The disaster came a day after late Archbishop Desmond Tutu's state funeral at St. George's Cathedral - a stone's throw away from where the fire happened.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the work of the parliament would carry on.

"Yesterday was a day crowned with celebration, a day crowned with sending off our beloved Archbishop and to wake up the devastating news of the burning down of the National Assembly, of parliament, is just really a terrible set-back to what we were basking in yesterday. Our Arch would have been devastated as well."

He also said he believed one person was being questioned in relation to the fire.

No injuries have been reported, according to a government minister.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately known.

The parliamentary complex, some of which dates back to 1884, consists of a cluster of buildings.

According to Jean-Pierre Smith, a Cape Town mayoral committee member, the roof of the old building had collapsed and the fire had gutted the third floor of the building.

He added that the parliament's fire alarm only rang when firefighters were already on site.

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