Officials: Fire at Coptic church in Cairo kills 41, hurts 14

A hearth ripped by means of a packed church throughout morning companies in Egypt’s capital on Sunday, killing no less than 41 worshippers and injuring 14.The church shortly full of thick black smoke, and witnesses mentioned a number of trapped congregants jumped from higher flooring to flee. “Suffocation, suffocation, all of them useless,” mentioned a distraught witness, who solely gave a partial identify, Abu Bishoy.

The reason for the blaze within the Abu Sefein church within the working-class neighborhood of Imbaba was not instantly recognized. An preliminary investigation pointed to {an electrical} short-circuit, in keeping with a police assertion.

Footage from the scene circulated on-line confirmed burned furnishings, together with picket tables and chairs. Firefighters have been seen placing out the blaze whereas others carried victims to ambulances. Households waited for phrase on kin who have been contained in the church. Witnesses mentioned there have been many kids contained in the constructing when the fireplace broke out.

“There are kids we didn’t know find out how to get to them,” mentioned Abu Bishoy. “And we don’t know whose son that is, or whose daughter that’s. Is that this attainable? ”The nation’s well being minister blamed the smoke and a stampede as individuals tried to flee the fireplace for inflicting the fatalities. It was one of many worst hearth tragedies in Egypt in recent times.

Witness Emad Hanna mentioned the church consists of two locations used as a daycare for kids, and {that a} church employee managed to get many kids out.“We went upstairs and located individuals useless. And we began to see from exterior that the smoke was getting larger, and folks need to soar from the higher ground. … We discovered the kids.”

Egypt’s Coptic Church and the nation’s well being ministry reported the casualty toll. The church mentioned the fireplace broke out whereas a service was underway. The church is situated in a slim road in some of the densely populated neighborhoods in Cairo.Fifteen firefighting autos have been dispatched to the scene to place out the flames whereas ambulances ferried casualties to close by hospitals, officers mentioned.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi spoke by cellphone with the Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II to supply his condolences, the president’s workplace mentioned. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam, additionally supplied his condolences to the pinnacle of the Coptic church. “I’m intently following the developments of the tragic accident,” el-Sissi wrote on Facebook.

“I directed all involved state businesses and establishments to take all obligatory measures, and instantly to take care of this accident and its results.”Well being Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghafar mentioned in a press release that two of the injured have been discharged from a hospital whereas 12 others have been nonetheless being handled.

The Inside Ministry mentioned it acquired a report on the fireplace at 9 a.m. native time, and that they discovered that the blaze broke out in an air conditioner within the constructing’s second ground. The ministry, which oversees police and firefighters, blamed {an electrical} short-circuit for the fireplace, which produced enormous quantities of smoke.

In the meantime, the nation’s chief prosecutor, Hamada el-Sawy, ordered an investigation and a workforce of prosecutors have been dispatched to the church.Afterward Sunday, emergency companies mentioned they managed to place out the blaze and the prime minister and different senior authorities officers arrived to examine the location.

Egypt’s Christians account for some 10% of the nation’s greater than 103 million individuals and have lengthy complained of discrimination by the nation’s Muslim majority. Sunday’s blaze was one of many worst hearth tragedies in recent times in Egypt, the place security requirements and hearth rules are poorly enforced. In March final 12 months, a hearth at a garment manufacturing facility close to Cairo killed no less than 20 individuals and injured 24 extra.

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