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Fire kills 41 during mass at Cairo’s Coptic Church: officials

#Fire #kills #mass #Cairos #Coptic #Church #officials

More than 40 people were killed in a fire that broke out during a Sunday mass at a Coptic Christian church in a suburb of the Egyptian capital Cairo, church officials said.

The fire broke out for unknown reasons at the Abu Sifine Church in the northwestern working-class Imbaba district of the capital.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared on his Facebook page: “I have mobilized all government agencies to ensure that all measures are taken.”

Firefighters later said the fire was brought under control.

The Egyptian Coptic Church reported “41 dead and 14 injured” in a statement published on its Facebook page, citing “sources in the Ministry of Health”.

Prosecutors said they had launched an investigation and sent a team to the scene to determine the cause of the fire.

Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East, accounting for at least 10 million of Egypt’s 103 million population.

The minority have suffered attacks and complained of discrimination in the Muslim-majority North African country, the most populous in the Arab world.

Copts have suffered deadly attacks from Islamists, particularly after Sisi ousted former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, burning down churches, schools and homes.

Copts feel excluded from key posts in the state and deplore restrictive laws on building churches versus mosques.

Sisi, the first Egyptian president to attend the Coptic Christmas Mass each year, recently appointed a Coptic judge to head the Constitutional Court for the first time in history.

Sisi said on Sunday he “expressed his condolences over the phone” to Coptic Pope Tawadros II, who has been the head of Egypt’s Christian community since 2012.

Accidental fires are not uncommon in the sprawling metropolis of Cairo, where millions of Egyptians live in informal settlements.

Egypt, with its often ramshackle and poorly maintained infrastructure, has suffered several deadly fires in recent years.

In March 2021, at least 20 people died in a fire at a garment factory in an eastern Cairo suburb.

In 2020, two hospital fires claimed the lives of 14 Covid-19 patients.

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#Fire #kills #mass #Cairos #Coptic #Church #officials

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