A fire in a Coptic church in Egypt causes at least 41 deaths and dozens of injuries | International
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At least 41 people have died and 45 others have been injured in a fire inside a Coptic church in the Egyptian city of Giza on Sunday, according to two security sources. The fire broke out while 5,000 faithful gathered for a mass in the Abu Sifin church, in the Imbaba neighborhood, the Coptic church confirmed in a statement citing sources from the Egyptian Ministry of Health.
The fire blocked the entrance of the church, which caused a stampede of attendees to the religious act, added the same sources, who also affirm that the majority of victims were children. According to initial investigations, the incident could have been caused by an electrical fault.
“People were gathering on the third and fourth floors, and we saw smoke coming from the second floor. People rushed down the stairs and started falling on top of each other,” said Yasir Munir, a parishioner at the church. “Then we heard a bang and sparks and fire coming out the window,” he added. This man and his daughter were downstairs and were able to escape.
“I offer my sincere condolences to the families of the innocent victims who have gone to be with their Lord in one of their houses of worship,” Egyptian President Abdelfatá al-Sisi said in a message on Twitter.
Maher Murad said he dropped his sister off at the church after prayers. “As soon as I got 10 meters away from the church, I heard the sound of screaming and saw thick smoke,” she explained. “After the firefighters put out the fire, I recognized my sister’s body. All the bodies are charred, and many of them are children, who were in a church children’s room.”
The fire is in principle under control, but firefighters are cooling the place of the event, which prevents entry into the church. Giza, the second largest city in Egypt, is located across the Nile from Cairo.
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