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

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

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

The church shortly stuffed with thick black smoke, and witnesses stated a number of trapped worshipers jumped from higher flooring to flee. “Asphyxiation, asphyxiation, all of them lifeless,” stated a distraught witness, who gave solely a partial identify, Abu Bishoy.

The reason for the fireplace on the Abu Sefein church within the working-class neighborhood of Imbaba was not instantly identified. An preliminary investigation pointed to {an electrical} quick, in response to a police assertion.

Pictures of the scene that 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. The households waited for information concerning the relations who have been contained in the church.

Witnesses stated there have been many kids contained in the constructing when the fireplace broke out.

“There are kids that we did not know the best way to attain them,” stated Abu Bishoy. “And we do not know whose son that is, or whose daughter that is. It is attainable?”

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

Witness Emad Hanna stated that the church consists of two locations used as day care for kids, and {that a} church employee managed to take away many kids.

“We went upstairs and located lifeless folks. And we started to see from exterior that the smoke was getting greater, and folks wished to leap from the highest flooring. … We discovered the kids.”

Egypt’s Coptic Church and the nation’s well being ministry reported the variety of victims. The church stated the fireplace broke out whereas a service was in progress. The church is positioned on a slim avenue in one of the crucial densely populated neighborhoods in Cairo.

Fifteen firefighting automobiles have been dispatched to the scene to douse the flames whereas ambulances transported victims to close by hospitals, authorities stated.

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

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

Well being Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghafar stated in an announcement that two of the injured had been discharged from a hospital whereas 12 others have been nonetheless being handled.

The Inside Ministry stated it obtained a report concerning the fireplace at 9 am native time and located that the fireplace began in an air conditioner on the second flooring of the constructing.

The ministry, which oversees police and fireplace companies, blamed the fireplace on {an electrical} quick circuit, which produced large quantities of smoke. In the meantime, the nation’s chief prosecutor, Hamada el-Sawy, has ordered an investigation and a staff of prosecutors has been despatched to the church.

Afterward Sunday, emergency companies stated that they had managed to place out the fireplace and the prime minister and different prime authorities officers arrived to examine the scene.

Egypt’s Christians make up round 10% of the nation’s greater than 103 million folks and have lengthy complained of discrimination by the nation’s Muslim majority.

Sunday’s fireplace was one of many worst fireplace tragedies in recent times in Egypt, the place security rules and fireplace rules are poorly enforced. In March final yr, a hearth at a clothes manufacturing facility close to Cairo killed at the least 20 folks and injured 24 extra.

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