Man arrested over fire at S.Africa parliament

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Cape Town, Jan 3 : A man has been arrested after a large fire severely damaged the Houses of Parliament in the South African city of Cape Town. A police spokesperson said the man was facing charges of arson, housebreaking and theft, and would appear in court on Tuesday, the BBC reported. Firefighters have been working for hours to extinguish the blaze. President Cyril Ramaphosa called it a "terrible and devastating event", as he vowed parliament's work would continue. Footage from the scene on Sunday showed a plume of black smoke filling the sky, with huge flames coming out from the roof of the building. Officials said the fire started on the third floor offices and quickly spread to the National Assembly (the parliament's lower house) chamber. The parliament is not currently in session because of the holidays, and no injuries were reported. Brigadier Nomthandazo Mbambo said the suspect is also expected to be charged under the National Key Points Act, which protects sites of strategic importance. Further details were not immediately available. In a statement on Sunday night, South Africa's parliament confirmed that there had been "significant damage" to the New Assembly Wing of the building, which includes the National Assembly chamber where lawmakers sit. It also said some offices had been "severely gutted". /IANS




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