A devastating fire that broke out just before daylight completely destroyed the South African Parliament yesterday. It was in those rooms, now incinerated, that the last white president FW de Klerk announced in 1990 the release of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela after 27 years of imprisonment, thus paving the way for the country’s first multi-party elections. The flames originated in the oldest wing of the Parliament complex, the one completed in 1884 and which houses wood-paneled rooms, thick carpets, tapestries and curtains. The Parliament complex consists of three buildings, the other two being built in the 1920s and 1980s. And it is also here that the fire spread, hitting the areas used by the deputies. The dynamics of the disaster on which an investigation was immediately opened is not yet known. According to what was reconstructed by JP Smith, responsible for safety in the team of the mayor of the capital, the fire alarm system would not have worked properly. Police arrested a suspect, a 51-year-old man. At dawn, witnesses told and the images spread on social media, you could see the intense smoke rising from the building against an already blue sky. “The whole room where the members sit … burned down” and again “the roof of the Old Assembly building collapsed and disappeared” to name just a few of the first dramatic statements released by the Cape Town authorities as the flames had not yet been put out. This building housed a collection of rare books and the original copy of the former Afrikaans national anthem “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” (“The Voice of South Africa”). Unfortunately “it was damaged by smoke and water,” Jean-Pierre Smith, a member of the Cape Town Mayor’s Committee on Safety, told reporters. The first team of firefighters who ;; She arrived on the scene while it was still dark and fought with the flames for several hours before being forced to retreat and ask for reinforcements. Later, 70 firefighters were deployed and used a crane to spray water on the fire. At noon the massive red and white building was still enveloped in a thick black cloud. The area around the Parliament, in an exclusive district of Cape Town, was immediately cordoned off. The cord has been extended to the Cathedral of San Giorgio where the flowers left on Saturday as a sign of homage during Desmond Tutu’s funeral are still displayed. It is here that the urn with the bone powders of the Nobel Peace Prize winner will be interred behind that pulpit where he served as archbishop for 35 years. South Africa, which has not yet dried its tears for the loss of one of the most beloved leaders in the struggle that put an end to apartheid, is thus struck by another disaster. Cape Town suffered another major fire last April when a terrible fire devastated part of the University library which contains a unique collection of African archives.
Source From: Ansa