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41 killed in Cairo church fire

41 killed in Cairo church fire

A fire that broke out on Sunday in the middle of a mass at a church in a popular Cairo neighborhood killed 41 people, in mourning the largest Christian community in the Middle East that includes 10 to 15 out of 103 million Egyptians.

“41 dead and 14 wounded,” the Egyptian Coptic Church said in a statement posted on its Facebook account, quoting “sources in the Ministry of Health.”

The fire, whose source has not been determined, has been brought under control, according to the authorities. It happened in the Abu Sefein Church in the popular neighborhood of Imbaba, named after Saint Mercury of Caesarea, revered by the Copts.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi immediately responded via his Facebook account, “I have mobilized all state services to ensure that all measures are taken.”

The prosecution announced that it had opened an investigation and sent a team to the site to find out the causes of the fire, while the Ministry of Health indicated that it had sent dozens of ambulances.

Mr. Sisi also announced that he “presented his condolences over the phone” to Coptic Pope Tawadros II, head of the Christian community in Egypt since 2012.

Since then, the Coptic Orthodox Church has shown itself more on the political scene, under the leadership of Tawadros II, an avowed supporter of Sisi, the first president of Egypt to attend Coptic Christmas mass each year while his predecessors sent representatives.

In the sprawling metropolis of Greater Cairo, where millions of Egyptians live in informal settlements, accidental fires are not uncommon. In general, Egypt, which has a dilapidated and poorly maintained infrastructure, regularly suffers from deadly fires in its various governorates.

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In March 2021, at least 20 people were killed in a fire at a textile factory in the eastern suburbs of Cairo. In 2020, two hospital fires killed fourteen COVID-19 patients.