Fireplace at Cairo Coptic church kills 41, together with 10 kids

An preliminary investigation pointed to {an electrical} short-circuit, in keeping with a police assertion

CAIRO (AP) — A fireplace ripped by way of a packed Coptic Orthodox church throughout morning companies in Egypt’s capital on Sunday, shortly filling it with thick black smoke and killing 41 worshippers, together with at the least 10 kids.

A number of trapped congregants jumped from higher flooring of the Martyr Abu Sefein church to attempt to escape the extreme flames, witnesses mentioned. “Suffocation, suffocation, all of them lifeless,” mentioned a distraught witness, who solely gave a partial identify, Abu Bishoy.

You are reading: Fireplace at Cairo Coptic church kills 41, together with 10 kids

Sixteen individuals have been injured, together with 4 policemen concerned within the rescue effort.

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

Weeping households waited exterior for phrase about relations nonetheless contained in the church and at close by hospitals the place the victims have been taken. 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.

Witnesses mentioned there have been many kids contained in the four-story constructing, which had two day care services, when the fireplace broke out.

“There are kids, we didn’t know methods to get to them,” mentioned Abu Bishoy. “And we don’t know whose son that is, or whose daughter that’s. Is that this potential?”

A hospital doc obtained by The Related Press mentioned 20 our bodies, together with 10 kids, have been taken to the Imbaba public hospital. Three have been siblings, twins aged 5 and a 3-year-old, it mentioned. The church bishop, Abdul Masih Bakhit, was additionally among the many lifeless on the hospital morgue.

Twenty-one our bodies have been taken to different hospitals. It was not instantly identified if kids have been amongst them.

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Mousa Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, informed the AP that 5-year-old triplets, their mom, grandmother and an aunt have been amongst these killed.

Witness Emad Hanna mentioned a church employee managed to get some kids out of the church day care services.

“We went upstairs and located individuals lifeless. And we began to see from exterior that the smoke was getting greater, and other people wish to bounce from the higher flooring,” Hanna mentioned.

“We discovered the kids,” some lifeless, some alive, he added.

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 lately.

The church is situated in a slender road in one of the vital densely populated neighborhoods in Cairo. Sunday is the primary working day of the week, and site visitors jams clog the streets in Imbama and surrounding areas within the morning.

Some relations criticized what they mentioned have been delays within the arrival of ambulances and firefighters. “They got here after individuals died. … They got here after the church burned down,” shouted one lady standing exterior the smouldering church.

Well being Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghafar countered that the primary ambulance arrived on the website two minutes after the fireplace was reported.

Fifteen firefighting autos have been dispatched to the scene to place out the flames whereas ambulances ferried casualties to close by hospitals, officers mentioned.

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President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi spoke by telephone with Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II to supply his condolences, the president’s workplace mentioned. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam, additionally provided condolences to the pinnacle of the Coptic church.

“I’m carefully following the developments of the tragic accident,” el-Sissi wrote on Fb. “I directed all involved state companies and establishments to take all mandatory measures, and instantly to cope with this accident and its results.”

Abdel-Ghafar, the well being minister, mentioned in a press release that two of the injured have been discharged from a hospital whereas the others have been nonetheless being handled.

The Inside Ministry mentioned it obtained a report of the fireplace at 9 a.m. native time, and first responders discovered that the blaze had damaged out in an air conditioner on the constructing’s second flooring.

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 crew of prosecutors have been dispatched to the church. He mentioned most victims died of smoke inhalation.

By Sunday afternoon, emergency companies mentioned they managed to place out the blaze and the prime minister and different senior authorities officers arrived to examine the location. Premier Mustafa Madbouly mentioned surviving victims and households of the lifeless would obtain funds as compensation and that the federal government would rebuild the church.

By late afternoon, caskets carrying the lifeless have been transferred in ambulances for pre-burial prayers at two church buildings within the close by Waraq neighbourhood, as weeping girls lined their path.

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 lately in Egypt, the place security requirements and hearth laws are poorly enforced. In March final yr, a hearth at a garment manufacturing facility close to Cairo killed at the least 20 individuals and injured 24.

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