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Fire in South African parliament under control, but severe damage

After the major fire at the weekend in South Africa's parliament building, the cost of rebuilding the historic structure is estimated at the equivalent of several hundred million dollars.

After the major fire at the weekend in South Africa’s parliament building, the cost of rebuilding the historic structure is estimated at the equivalent of several hundred million dollars.

“We’ll need hundred of millions, if not billions of rands,” Cape Town’s security commissioner Jean-Pierre Smith told news channel eNCA on Monday.

He also spoke of serious deficiencies that could be due to poor maintenance. For example, he said, the electricity system had not switched off automatically and the ventilation systems had continued to run. Also, the automatic fire alarm had only been activated after a long delay.

In the tourist metropolis of Cape Town, more than 70 firefighters had tried for hours over the weekend to get the fire under control – only on Monday morning was the all-clear given.

According to a parliamentary spokesperson, the flames had also destroyed the chamber in which the National Assembly meets.

The fire initially broke out at the back of the building complex that houses the old assembly chamber and the National Council of Provinces, the responsible minister Patricia de Lille had explained.

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