Fire breaks out at South African parliament building in Cape Town

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A major fire broke out in the South African parliament building in Cape Town on Sunday, said AFP reporters at the scene.

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Firefighters were present at the building as large flames and a huge column of smoke were seen at around 0530 GMT.

Several hours after the blaze started in the legislative capital Cape Town, thick smoke was still pouring from one of the several buildings that make up the parliament complex.

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia De Lille told reporters the blaze was under control. She said it was currently burning in the National Assembly chamber, but had been contained in other parts.

De Lille said there were no reports of any injuries in the fire.

“The roof has caught fire and the National Assembly building is also on fire,” a spokesman for the city’s emergency services told AFP.

The cause of the blaze was not yet known.

Initial reports indicated that the fire started in an office space and spread towards a gym, said Jean-Pierre Smith, a Cape Town mayoral committee member responsible for safety and security.

Thick smoke billowed from the roof of the building and from the entrance as emergency services sprayed water inside.

The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town consist of three sections, including the original and oldest building that was completed in 1884.

The newer additions -- constructed in the 1920s and 1980s -- house the National Assembly.

In April last year, a fire ravaged part of The University of Cape Town’s library housing a unique collection of African archives.

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