41 dead in fire at mass in Cairo Copt church
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, in the densely populated neighborhood of Imbaba, Cairo Egypt, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022.
More than 40 people were killed in a blaze that broke out during a Sunday mass in a Coptic Christian church in a suburb of Egypt’s capital Cairo, church officials said.
The blaze started for unknown reasons at the Abu Sifine church in the capital’s northwestern, working-class district of Imbaba.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared on his Facebook page, “I have mobilized all state services to ensure that all measures are taken.”
Fire services later said the blaze had been brought under control.
The Egyptian Coptic Church reported “41 dead and 14 injured” citing “sources in the Ministry of Health,” in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
The prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation and sent a team to the scene to establish the cause of the blaze.
Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East, making up at least 10 million of Egypt’s 103 million people.
Sisi, the first Egyptian president to attend the Coptic Christmas mass every year, recently appointed a Coptic judge to head the Constitutional Court for the first time in history.
Sisi said Sunday he had “presented his condolences by phone” to Coptic Pope Tawadros II, who has been the head of Egypt’s Christian community since 2012.
Accidental fires are not uncommon in Cairo. Egypt has suffered several deadly fires in recent years.
In March 2021, at least 20 people died in a blaze in a textile factory in an eastern suburb of Cairo.
In 2020, two hospital fires claimed the lives of 14 COVID-19 patients.