CAIRO: A large fire that broke out on Sunday in a local church in Giza has killed 41 people, Egypt’s Coptic Church said, while the health ministry reported at least 55 people were injured.
The Coptic Church cited health officials in reporting the casualty toll. It said the fire broke out while a service was underway. Spokesman for the Coptic Church told Al Arabiya TV that the priest of the church died in the accident.
The incident prompted President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to call on the region’s emergency services to take all necessary measures. Sisi also spoke by phone with the Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences.
Fifteen firefighting vehicles were dispatched to the scene to put out the flames while ambulances ferried casualties to nearby hospitals. At least 30 ambulances transferred those injured to local hospitals, the spokesperson of the health ministry, Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, was quoted saying in a report by state-run news site Ahram.
The injured, according to the report, were transferred to Imbaba General Hospital and Agouza Hospital.
The blaze ripped through the Abu Sefein church in densely populated neighborhood of Imbaba.
The cause of the blaze was not immediately known. Police said an initial investigation blamed an electrical short-circuit.
The statement said the fire broke out while congregation was underway Sunday morning.
Sisi said on a facebook post that he was following the developments of the “tragic accident” closely and has directed all relevant state agencies and institutions to take the necessary measures.
“I offer my sincere condolences to the families of the innocent victims,” the Egyptian president said.