The fire was sparked by a short circuit in the Abu Sifine church, which is wedged into a narrow alley in Imbaba, a densely populated neighborhood on the left bank of the Nile.
The air conditioner in a classroom on the second floor of the building where the church is located broke down and released a large amount of smoke, which was the main cause of injuries and deathsaccording to the Ministry of the Interior.
The church is on the ground floor of a building that also houses a social services center, according to an AFP photographer.
Look for the children
Reda Ahmed, who lives near the stricken church, explained that
the neighbors have organized to pick up the children when the fire broke out.
But those who came back couldn’t go back because the fire was too big.
Ambulances arrived after more than an hour […] the fire trucks also while the station is less than five minutes awaylamented Mina Masry, another resident of the district.
One of the fire trucks dispatched to the scene to put out the fire cluttered almost the entire width of the street.
Witness of the drama, Sayed Toufik described difficult scenes.
Some jumped out of the windows to escape the fire. If you look at this car, you can see the impact marks left by a person who is now hospitalized with broken arms and backs.
A little further on, near a car on which broken glass, debris and ashes are piling up, Father Farid Fahmy, officiating in the neighboring church of Mar Yemina, affirmed that
the fire started from a generator which started up after a power outage and suffered an overload.
The prosecution has announced an investigation.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said he had
mobilized all State services.
He later indicated
having already given directives to the military engineers for the reconstruction of the burnt churchaccording to a press release from the presidency.
Local authorities have announced aid of around 2,500 euros for each of the families of the deceased and 500 euros for the injured.
The Conference of Catholic Churches in the Holy Land and the Grand Imam of Sunni Islam’s highest institution, al-Azhar, based in Cairo, offered their condolences to Coptic Pope Tawadros II.
They were preceded by Mr. Sissi who called Tawadros II, a proclaimed supporter of the head of state. Mr Sisi is the first president of Egypt to attend the Coptic Christmas Mass every year as his predecessors sent representatives there.
Egyptian international footballer Mohamed Salah expressed his condolences on Twitter, wishing
a speedy recovery to all injured.
In the sprawling megalopolis of Cairo, where millions live in informal settlements, accidental fires are not uncommon.
Endowed with dilapidated and poorly maintained infrastructure, Egypt regularly experiences deadly fires in its various provinces.
Last Monday, a church had caught fire in Heliopolis, a wealthy district in the east of Cairo, without however causing any deaths or injuries.
In March 2021, at least 20 people died in a fire at a textile factory in the eastern suburbs of Cairo. In 2020, two fires in hospitals killed 14 people.
Forming the main minority in the country, the Copts consider themselves kept out of many positions in the public service and deplore very restrictive legislation for the construction of churches and much more liberal for mosques.
The subject is sensitive and Coptic human rights activist Patrick Zaki recently spent 22 months in detention for
spreading false informationbecause of an article denouncing violations of the rights of Christians in Egypt.
Copts have suffered reprisals from Islamists, notably after Mr Sisi’s 2013 overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, with churches, schools and homes set on fire.
Mr. Sissi recently appointed for the first time in history a Coptic judge to head the Constitutional Court.
The Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East and represent 10 to 15 of the 103 million Egyptians with a Muslim majority.