A fire at a Coptic church in Cairo has killed 41 people, including 15 children

According to the police, initial investigations indicated an electrical short circuit.

CAIRO, Egypt – A fire broke through a packed Coptic Orthodox Church during morning services in the Egyptian capital On Sunday, quickly filled it with thick black smoke, killing 41 worshipers, including at least 15 children.

Several trapped parishioners jumped from the upper floors of Martyrs Abu Sefein Church to try to escape the intense flames, witnesses said. “Suffocation, suffocation, all dead,” said a dismayed witness, who only partially named Abu Bishoy.

16 people were injured, including four police officers involved in the rescue operation.

The cause of the fire in the church in the working-class district of Imbaba was initially unknown. According to the police, initial investigations indicated an electrical short circuit.

Weeping families waited outside for news from relatives who were at the church and at nearby hospitals where the victims were being taken. Footage from the scene circulated online showed burnt furniture, including wooden tables and chairs. Firefighters were seen putting out the fire while others carried victims to ambulances.

Witnesses said there were many children in the four-story building that housed two day care centers.

“There are children, we didn’t know how to get hold of them,” Abu Bishoy said. “And we don’t know whose son this is or whose daughter this is. Is that possible?”

A total of 15 children were killed in the fire, according to Copts United, a news website focused on Christian news.

A list of victims obtained by The Associated Press says 20 bodies, including 10 children, were taken to Imbaba Public Hospital. Three were siblings, twins aged 5 and a 3-year-old, sources said. Among the dead in the hospital morgue was Church Bishop Abdul Masih Bakhit.

Twenty-one bodies were taken to other hospitals.

Mousa Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, told the AP that five-year-old triplets, her mother, grandmother and an aunt were among those killed.

Witness Emad Hanna said a church worker managed to get some children from the church’s day care center.

“We went upstairs and found people dead. And we started to see from the outside that the smoke was getting bigger and people wanted to jump out of the upper floor,” Hanna said.

“We found the children,” he added, some dead, some alive.

The country’s health minister blamed the deaths on smoke and a stampede as people tried to flee the fire. It was one of the worst fire tragedies in Egypt in recent years.

The church is located on a narrow street in one of Cairo’s most densely populated areas. Sunday is the first working day of the week and in the morning traffic jams clog the roads in and around Imbama.

Some relatives criticized what they described as delays in the arrival of ambulances and firefighters. “They came after people died. … They came after the church burned down,” cried a woman standing in front of the smoldering church.

Health Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghafar countered that the first ambulance arrived at the scene two minutes after the fire was reported.

Fifteen fire engines were dispatched to the scene to douse the blaze while ambulances took the injured to nearby hospitals, officials said.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi spoke to Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II by phone to express his condolences, the president’s office said. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, also expressed his condolences to the head of the Coptic Church.

“I am following the developments of the tragic accident closely,” wrote el-Sissi on Facebook. “I have instructed all government agencies and institutions concerned to take all necessary measures and to deal with this accident and its effects without delay.”

Abdel-Ghafar, the health minister, said in a statement that two of the injured were discharged from a hospital while the others were still being treated.

The Home Office said it received a report of the fire at 9 a.m. local time, and first responders determined the fire had started in an air-conditioning unit on the second floor of the building.

The ministry, which oversees police and firefighters, blamed an electrical short circuit for the fire, which produced huge amounts of smoke. Meanwhile, the country’s attorney general, Hamada el-Sawy, ordered an investigation and a team of prosecutors was dispatched to the church. He said most of the victims died from smoke inhalation.

On Sunday afternoon, emergency services said they managed to put out the fire and the prime minister and other senior government officials arrived to inspect the site. Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said surviving victims and families of the dead would receive compensation payments and that the government would rebuild the church.

Late in the afternoon, coffins containing the dead were taken in ambulances for pre-burial prayers at two churches in the nearby Waraq neighborhood, while weeping women lined their way. Hundreds of mourners gathered in churches for the funerals before taking the bodies to be buried in nearby cemeteries.

Egypt’s Christians, who make up about 10% of the country’s more than 103 million people, have long complained of discrimination by the country’s Muslim majority.

Sunday’s fire was one of the worst fire tragedies in recent years in Egypt, where safety standards and fire safety regulations are poorly enforced. In March last year, at least 20 people died and 24 were injured in a fire at a textile factory near Cairo.

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/nation-world/coptic-church-fire-in-cairo-kills-41-including-15-children/507-22c6402e-5866-4bee-8716-b19858771928 A fire at a Coptic church in Cairo has killed 41 people, including 15 children

Laura Coffey

World Time Todays is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@worldtimetodays.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button