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41 killed in Egypt church fire; 18 among them children

CAIRO, August 15, 2022

Forty-one people, 18 of them children, died in a fire that occured when dozens of worshippers gathered for Sunday morning mass at a church in Giza, greater Cairo, according to hospital documents cited by CNN.
 
Fourteen people were injured, said Egypt's Coptic Church in a statement, citing health officials. The hospital documents show the children were ages 3 to 16.
 
The fire started at about 9 am local time due to an electrical failure in an air conditioning unit on the church's second floor, Egypt's Interior Ministry said. The small church is located in the highly populated Imbaba neighbourhood.
 
Most of the deaths and injuries were caused by smoke inside church classrooms after the electrical failure, the ministry said in a Facebook post.
 
At least two officers and three civil protection service members were injured responding to the fire, the ministry said.
 
Church officials also believe the fire was accidental, said Coptic Church spokesperson Archpriest Moussa Ibrahim, adding a priest was among those killed.
 
Youssef Islam, 16, who works at a bakery next door to the church said the worst of the flames were on the fourth floor. He said he ran into the church and intended to get water from the third floor to help put out flames on the floor above. But when he forced his way through a door, he saw children's bodies piled on top of each other. "A horrible scene," he said. "This was probably the nursery."
 
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi tweeted his condolences to the victims of the 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 houses of worship," Sisi said.
 



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