EGYPT: After a fire broke out at a church in Egypt, dozens of people perished, many of them were crushed in a hasty attempt to flee.
According to the Egyptian authorities, there are at least 41 fatalities and several injuries. There may be children among the deceased.
At the Coptic Abu Sifin church in Giza, where 5,000 people had gathered for Mass, an electrical fire started, according to security sources. The fire blocked an entrance, causing a stampede.
18 children were killed ranging in age from 3 to 16 years old.
Father Farid Fahmy, a priest at a neighbouring church in the Imbaba neighborhood, claimed that a short circuit was to blame.
“The power was out and they were using a generator,” he said. “When the power came back, it caused an overload.”
Smoke was emerging from the second storey, and people were congregating on the third and fourth floors. As people hurried down the steps, they began to collide with one another.
“Then we heard a bang and sparks and fire coming out of the window,” an eyewitness said.
He added that he and his daughter were on the ground floor and able to escape.
“Sincere condolences to the families of the innocent victims who have passed away to be with their Lord in one of his sites of worship,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said.
Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi has ordered the armed forces to rebuild the church.
The prosecutor’s office announced that a team had been dispatched to the location to look into what started the fire.
Giza is a part of the Greater Cairo metropolis and is located directly over the Nile from Cairo.
Of Egypt’s 103 million citizens, at least 10 million are Coptic Christians.
Copts assert that they experience prejudice and have less influence on Egyptian public life than their relative numbers would indicate.