At least 41 people were killed and 14 others injured in a fire at a church in the city of Giza, near Cairo, Egypt’s Coptic Church said – citing the health ministry.
Egypt’s health ministry earlier said “several” people were killed in the fire at the Abu Sifin Coptic church in the Imbaba neighbourhood on Sunday and that ambulances transferred at least 55 injured people to local hospitals.
An initial investigation pointed to an electrical short-circuit, according to a police statement.
Two security sources told Reuters news agency an electrical fire broke out as 5,000 worshippers gathered for mass, causing a stampede.
Fifteen fire engines were dispatched to the scene to put out the flames while ambulances ferried the casualties to nearby hospitals.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi spoke by phone with the Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences, the president’s office said.
“I have mobilised all state services to ensure that all measures are taken,” he said on his Facebook page.
Fire services later said the blaze had been brought under control.
The Interior Ministry said it received a report on the fire at 9am local time (07:00 GMT), and that they found that the blaze broke out in an air conditioner in the building’s second storey.
The ministry, which oversees police and firefighters, blamed an electrical short-circuit for the fire, which produced huge amounts of smoke.
The country’s chief prosecutor, Hamada el-Sawy, ordered an investigation and a team of prosecutors were dispatched to the church.
Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East, making up at least 10 million of Egypt’s 103 million people.
Egypt has suffered several deadly fires in recent years.
In March 2021, at least 20 people died in a blaze in a textile factory in the eastern suburbs of Cairo.
In 2020, two hospital fires killed 14 COVID-19 patients.