Home WORLD AFRICA Cairo church fire kills at least 41

Cairo church fire kills at least 41

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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 deathsexplains the Ministry of the Interior.

A wall of the Abou Sifine church which caught fire on Sunday.

A wall of the Abou Sifine church where a deadly fire broke out on Sunday, killing at least 41 people.

Photo: Reuters / MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY

The Abu Sifine church – named after the holy Mercury of Caesarea, revered by the Copts – is indeed stuck in a narrow alley of the popular district of Imbaba.

One of the fire trucks that were active there on Sunday cluttered almost the entire width of the street in this densely populated area of ​​the left bank of the Nile.

The church is on the ground floor of a building, separated by just a few meters by a vis-à-vis, surmounted by a cross and also housing a center for social services, noted a photographer from the ‘AFP on the spot.

For Reda Ahmed, resident of the neighborhood and neighbor of the church, the neighbors have organized to pick up the children.

But, he still told theAFP, those who returned could no longer return, because the fire was too big. The fire was later brought under control, authorities said.

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A little further on, Father Farid Fahmy, a religious officiating at the nearby church of Mar Yemina, affirms that the fire started due to a generator that started after a power outage and suffered an overload.

The prosecution announced that it had opened an investigation and sent a team to the scene, while the Ministry of Health indicated that it had dispatched several dozen ambulances.

Very quickly, President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi announced that he had mobilized all State services to ensure that all measures are taken.

Mr. Sissi also announced that he had expressed his condolences by telephone 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, a proclaimed supporter of Mr. Sisi, the first president of Egypt to attend the Coptic Christmas mass each year while his predecessors sent representatives.

Members of the security services in an alley in Egypt after a fire.

Members of the security services near the church where the fire broke out.

Photo: Reuters / MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY

In the sprawling megalopolis of Cairo, where millions of Egyptians live in informal settlements, accidental fires are not uncommon. More generally, the various provinces of Egypt, endowed with dilapidated and poorly maintained infrastructure, regularly experience deadly fires.

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Already on Monday, a church had caught fire in Heliopolis, a wealthy district in the east of Cairo, without causing any death or injury.

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 claimed the lives of 14 patients with COVID-19.

Although numerous, 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 information because of an article denouncing violations of the rights of Christians in Egypt.

Copts have faced 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.

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