Coptic church fire in Egypt kills dozens, mostly children: report

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Children were among dozens of worshipers killed on Sunday when a fire ripped through a Coptic church in Cairo, according to reports.

The fire tore through the Abu Sefein Church in the densely populated Imbaba district, killing at least 41 people and injuring at least 14 others, the Coptic Church of Egypt said, citing health officials for the toll of the victims.

Two security sources told Reuters that 5,000 worshipers had gathered at the church when the fire broke out and blocked the entrance, causing a stampede.

Sources said most of those killed were children.

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Security members stand at the scene where a deadly fire broke out at the Abu Sifin church in Cairo’s Imbaba district on Sunday.
(Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. According to the police, an initial investigation implicated an electrical short circuit.

More than a dozen fire engines battled to put out the flames as ambulances ferried victims to nearby hospitals.

People and police stand near the scene where a deadly fire broke out at the Abu Sifin church in Cairo's Imbaba district on Sunday.

People and police stand near the scene where a deadly fire broke out at the Abu Sifin church in Cairo’s Imbaba district on Sunday.
(Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

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President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi spoke by telephone with Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences, the president’s office said.

“I am closely following the evolution of this tragic accident,” el-Sissi wrote on Facebook. “I have ordered all relevant state agencies and institutions to take all necessary measures and immediately deal with this accident and its effects.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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