By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
CAIRO (Worthy News) – At least 41 people, mostly children, were killed and 55 injured Sunday in a fire inside a church in the Egyptian city of Giza, part of the Greater Cairo Area, church and security sources said.
The electrical fire reportedly broke out as 5000 worshippers gathered for mass at the Coptic Abu Seifeng Church in Giza’s densely populated Imbaba neighborhood, causing a stampede.
Church sources said the blaze was sparked by faulty electrics on an air conditioner unit on the building’s second story and spread just as worshippers gathered for the Sunday service at the Abu Sefein church.
While confirming the fire, Egypt’s Coptic Church cited health officials for the death toll.
Survivors recalled hearing a loud bang before the blaze spread across the second floor. Witnesses said that people rushed down the stairs and started falling on each other. The horror was reportedly made worse when flames blocked an entrance.
Authorities explained that the emission of a cloud of thick smoke was one of the leading causes of injuries and deaths. Witnesses saw fifteen firefighting vehicles were dispatched to the scene to put out the flames while ambulances ferried the casualties to nearby hospitals.
The Health Ministry said ambulances had transferred at least 55 injured to hospitals.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi spoke by phone with the Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences, the president’s office stated. In addition, El-Sissi directed all concerned state agencies and institutions “to take all necessary measures” to deal with the incident and its effects.
Copts comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s primarily Muslim population of nearly 108 million. The fire came amid ongoing reports of persecution of minority Christians in several parts of the country.
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