CAIRO – At least 41 people lost their lives and another 14 were injured in the fire in a Coptic church in Giza, Cairo. Inside the building there were 5,000 faithful who took part in Sunday mass. In a panic they tried to escape and a crowd was produced which together with the thick smoke caused the majority of victims. The Interior Ministry has made it known that the fire was caused by an electrical fault.
“A great fire broke out in the Abu Sefein church in the Imbaba area during mass this morning”, reads the note from the religious institute.
Security sources reported that the fire originated in the air conditioning unit on the second floor of the church building, which includes several classrooms, due to an electrical fault.
The Egyptian president, Abdelfattah al-Sisi, expressed condolences to the families of the “innocent” victims. “I am closely following the developments of the tragic accident in the church … I have ordered all relevant state apparatuses and institutions to take all necessary measures, to deal immediately with this accident and its effects, to provide all medical care to the injured. “said the president.
Copts are 10 million out of 103 million Egyptians and represent the largest Christian community in the Middle East. They suffered Islamist attacks, with churches, schools and houses burned, particularly after al-Sisi overthrew former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. And they denounce discrimination in the Muslim-majority country, the most populous in the Arab world.