A fire swept through a packed church during morning services in the Egyptian capital on Sunday, killing at least 41 worshipers and injuring 14. The church quickly filled with thick black smoke and witnesses said several trapped worshipers jumped from the upper floors to collapse to escape. “Suffocation, suffocation, all dead,” said a dismayed witness, who gave only part of Abu Bishoy’s name.
The cause of the fire in the church of Abu Sefein in the working-class district of Imbaba was initially unknown. According to the police, initial investigations indicated an electrical short circuit. Images of the scene circulating online showed burned furniture, including wooden tables and chairs.
Firefighters were seen putting out the fire while others carried victims to ambulances. The families were waiting for news about the relatives who were staying at the church.
Witnesses said there were many children in the building when the fire broke out. “There are children that we didn’t know how to reach,” said Abu Bishoy.”And we don’t know whose son or whose daughter it is. Is that possible? Fire tragedies in Egypt in recent years.
Witness Emad Hanna said that the church has two locations that are used as daycare centers for children and that a church worker managed to remove many children.“We went upstairs and found dead people. And we started to see from the outside that the smoke was getting bigger and people wanted to jump from the top floor. We found the kids.
The Coptic Church of Egypt and the country’s Health Ministry reported the number of casualties. The church said the fire broke out during a service. The church is located on a narrow street in one of Cairo’s most densely populated areas.
Fifteen fire engines were dispatched to the scene to douse the blaze while ambulances transported the victims to nearby hospitals, authorities said. President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi spoke to Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II by phone to express his condolences, the president’s office said.
Developments of the tragic accident,” el-Sissi wrote on Facebook.“I have instructed all government agencies and institutions involved to take all necessary measures and deal with this accident and its effects without delay.
Health Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghafar said in a statement that two of the injured had been discharged from a hospital while 12 others were still being treated. The Home Office said it received a report of the fire at 9 am local time and that they found the fire started in an air conditioner on the second floor of the building.
The ministry, which oversees police and firefighters, blamed the blaze on an electrical short circuit that produced copious amounts of smoke. Meanwhile, the country’s chief prosecutor, Hamada el-Sawy, has ordered an investigation and a team of prosecutors has been dispatched to the scene Church.
Later Sunday, emergency services said they managed to put out the fire and the prime minister and other senior government officials arrived to inspect the site. he complained about discrimination by the country’s Muslim majority. Sunday’s fire was one of the worst fire tragedies in recent years in Egypt, where safety and fire regulations are not properly enforced.
In March last year, at least 20 people died and 24 others were injured in a fire at a textile factory near Cairo.