Fire in an Egyptian church leaves at least 41 dead, according to security sources

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At least 41 people were killed and 45 injured in a fire inside a church in the Egyptian city of Giza on Sunday, two security sources told Reuters.

An electrical fire broke out shortly before 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) during mass as 5,000 people gathered at the Abu Sifin Coptic Church in the Imbaba neighborhood, the sources said.

Flames blocked an entrance to the temple, causing a stampede, they said, adding that most of the dead were children.

“People were gathering on the third and fourth floors, and we saw smoke rising from the second floor. People rushed down the stairs and started falling on top of each other,” said Yasir Munir, a worshiper.

“Then we heard a bang and sparks and fire coming out the window,” he said, stating that he and his daughter were downstairs and were able to escape.

Electrical fires are not unusual in Egypt. In late 2020, a fire at a hospital treating COVID-19 patients killed at least seven people and injured several more.

Giza, the second largest city in Egypt, is located just opposite El Cario, on the other side of the Nile.

“I offer my sincere condolences to the families of the innocent victims who have come to be with their Lord in one of their houses of worship,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a tweet.

Maher Murad said he dropped his sister off at the church after prayers.

“As soon as I walked away from the church for only 10 meters, I heard the sound of screaming and saw thick smoke,” he said. “After the firefighters put out the fire, I recognized my sister’s body. The bodies are all charred, and many of them are children who were in a church nursery.”

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