Officers: Fireplace at Coptic church in Cairo kills 41, hurts 14

CAIRO — A fireplace ripped by a packed church throughout morning providers in Egypt’s capital on Sunday, killing at the least 41 worshippers and injuring 14.

The church rapidly stuffed with 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 title, Abu Bishoy.

You are reading: Officers: Fireplace at Coptic church in Cairo kills 41, hurts 14

The reason for the blaze within the Abu Sefein church within the working-class neighborhood of Imbaba was not instantly identified. 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 wood tables and chairs. Firefighters had been seen placing out the blaze whereas others carried victims to ambulances. Households waited for phrase on kin who had been contained in the church.

A woman reacts after a deadly fire broke out at the Abu Sifin church
A girl reacts after a lethal hearth broke out on the Abu Sifin church.
REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Witnesses mentioned there have been many youngsters contained in the constructing when the hearth broke out.

“There are kids we didn’t know learn 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 doable?”

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The nation’s well being minister blamed the smoke and a stampede as individuals tried to flee the hearth for inflicting the fatalities. It was one of many worst hearth tragedies in Egypt in recent times.

Emergency personnel work at the site of a fire at the Abu Sefein church that has killed over 40 people and injured at least 14 others
Emergency personnel work on the website of a hearth on the Abu Sefein church that has killed over 40 individuals and injured at the least 14 others.
AP Picture/Mohamed Salah

Witness Emad Hanna mentioned the church contains two locations used as a daycare for youngsters, and {that a} church employee managed to get many youngsters out.

“We went upstairs and located individuals useless. And we began to see from exterior that the smoke was getting greater, and other people need to leap from the higher ground. … We discovered the youngsters.”

Egypt’s Coptic Church and the nation’s well being ministry reported the casualty toll. The church mentioned the hearth broke out whereas a service was underway. The church is positioned in a slim road in one of the crucial densely populated neighborhoods in Cairo.

Burned furniture, including wooden tables and chairs, and religious pictures are seen at the site of a fire inside the Abu Sefein Coptic church
Burned furnishings, together with wood tables and chairs, and non secular photos are seen on the website of a hearth contained in the Abu Sefein Coptic church.
AP Picture/Tarek Wajeh

Fifteen firefighting autos had 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 telephone 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 provided his condolences to the pinnacle of the Coptic church.

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“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 essential measures, and instantly to cope with this accident and its results.”

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli (C) and Health Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar (C-L) visiting an injured woman at a hospital following the Abu Sifin church fire
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli and Well being Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar visiting an injured girl at a hospital following the Abu Sifin church hearth.
Egypt’s Prime Minister Workplace/AFP through Getty Photos

Well being Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghafar mentioned in a press release that two of the injured had been discharged from a hospital whereas 12 others had been nonetheless being handled.

The Inside Ministry mentioned it acquired a report on the hearth 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 hearth, which produced enormous quantities of smoke. In the meantime, the nation’s chief prosecutor, Hamada el-Sawy, ordered an investigation and a staff of prosecutors had been dispatched to the church.

Egyptian police gather outside the Abu Sifin church
Witnesses described how individuals rushed into the burning home of worship to rescue these trapped however had been quickly overwhelmed by the warmth and the lethal smoke.
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP through Getty Photos

Afterward Sunday, emergency providers mentioned they managed to place out the blaze and the prime minister and different senior authorities officers arrived to examine the positioning.

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 laws are poorly enforced. In March final 12 months, a hearth at a garment manufacturing unit close to Cairo killed at the least 20 individuals and injured 24 extra.

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