Fire sweeps through Egypt's parliament

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A massive fire broke out at Egypt's upper house of parliament on Tuesday, injuring six people, police and fire department officials said.

The officials said the injuries were a result of smoke inhalation and minor burns.

Flames and clouds of smoke could be seen billowing from the three-storey building in central Cairo. State-run television said in a brief statement that the cause was probably a short circuit.

Reuters witnesses said helicopters hovered over the river Nile to scoop water up into containers suspended beneath them before flying to parliament and dumping the water over the blaze.

About a dozen fire engines were spraying water from hoses to put out the flames, which caused the parts of the ceiling on the top floor to collapse, a Reuters witness said. Ambulances were also at the scene.

A security source said the army had been called in to help fight the fire.

Police forces cordoned off the area around the building, which is close to the American University in Cairo and several Western embassies, and thousands of people gathered to watch and take photographs.