Blaze at Coptic Orthodox Church in Giza claims 41 lives

The Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt says that a fire at a church in Giza resulted in the deaths of 41 worshippers.

By Nathan Morley

This blaze is one of the worst fire tragedies in memory and comes as the country is in the grip of blistering summer heat.

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, citing health officials, said in addition to those killed, fourteen others were injured.

It is understood the fire, sparked by faulty electrics on an air conditioner unit on the building’s second story, spread just as worshippers gathered for mass at the Abu Sifin church at around 9am on Sunday.

Those present heard a loud bang before the blaze spread across the second floor.

Around 5,000 people were in the church in the Imbaba district.

The horror was made worse when an entrance was blocked by flames, causing a stampede. One witness said people were rushing to go down the stairs and started falling on top of each other.

Authorities say the emission of a cloud of thick smoke was the main cause of injuries and deaths. A statement issued by Egyptian health agencies said that 30 ambulances were dispatched to the church, and the injured were transferred to two local hospitals.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi directed all concerned state agencies and institutions to take all necessary measures to deal with the incident and its effects.