Egypt church fire leaves dozens dead and injured

Date:



CNN

Among the at least 41 dead and 14 injured are children after a fire broke out on Sunday at a church in the Imbaba neighborhood of Giza, near Cairo, an Egyptian Coptic Church spokesman said, citing health officials.

It’s unclear how many children died in the Abu Sefein church fire, but it was packed with believers attending Sunday mass, said Coptic Church spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, Archpriest. Among the dead was a priest, he said.

At least two officers and three members of the civil defense service were injured in the fire, Egypt’s interior ministry said in a Facebook post.

The statement added that the fire started around 9 a.m. local time and was caused by an electrical failure in an air conditioning unit on the second floor of the church.

Most of the deaths and injuries were caused by smoke in church premises after the power outage, the interior ministry said.

Church officials also believe the fire was accidental, Ibrahim said. The Coptic community and churches in Egypt have historically been the target of religious violence and attacks, with persecution and discrimination on the rise since the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011.

“We are in constant contact with the local authorities and the Ministry of Health,” the head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, said, according to the church spokesperson.

Mariam Malak, 23, told CNN she had left the church shortly before the fire broke out.

“I was leaving church after Sunday mass and on my way to work when my mother called me, she thought I was in the fire. I turned around and saw [the] church in flames. I just missed it for a few minutes.

“Everyone who was there went to heaven, including our father Abdel Masih, who led the prayers this morning and many of our families and friends. We are now trying to identify everyone,” she said.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi tweeted his condolences to the victims of the church fire.

“I offer my sincere condolences to the families of the innocent victims who moved to the side of their Lord in one of the places of worship,” El Sisi said.

The Egyptian president said he is closely following the developments of the “tragic accident” and has instructed government agencies and institutions to take the necessary measures to immediately address the tragedy and care for the injured.

Egyptian footballer Mo Salah, who plays for Liverpool and captains the national team, also sent a message of support to those affected by the tragedy on Sunday, saying in a tweet: “My sincere condolences to the victims of the Abu Sefein Church, and my best wishes for a speedy recovery to all the injured.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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