On Sunday, an electrical fire spread through an Egyptian Coptic Christian church during Mass, sparking a panic and killing at least 41 individuals, the majority of whom were youngsters and many of whom suffered from smoke inhalation.
Just before 9 a.m., a fire broke out in the Abu Sifin church in the city of Giza, where as many as 1,000 people had gathered.
According to two versions, the fire blocked an entry to the church, causing the stampede; the majority of those who perished were children.
Devotee Yasir Munir said people gathered on the third and fourth floors, when they observed smoke emanating from the second floor. "People ran down the steps and began to tumble on top of one another," he said.
In Egypt, electrical fires are not uncommon. A fire at a facility treating COVID-19 patients in late 2020 claimed the lives of at least seven people.
The Interior Ministry said that a forensic investigation revealed that an electrical problem in the building's second-floor air conditioning caused the fire.
It was stated that smoking was the leading cause of death. According to a cabinet announcement, 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($5,220) would be given to the families of the deceased.
Egyptian official news claimed, citing a statement by prosecutor-general Hamada El Sawy, that a preliminary assessment of the fire "indicates that the flame was caused by an electrical short circuit."
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi tweeted, "I extend my profound condolences to the families of the innocent victims who have passed on to be with their Lord in one of his sites of worship."
The Egyptian president stated that he is carefully monitoring the "tragic catastrophe" and that he has ordered state authorities to take prompt action to address the disaster and offer care for the injured.
Sisi has ordered the Armed Forces Engineering Authority to reconstruct the church, according to the spokesperson for the Coptic Orthodox Church, as reported by Ahramonline.
Hesham El Swefy, chairman of the Egyptian Armed Forces Engineering Authority, called Pope Tawadros to inform him of Sisi's directive to rebuild the church, the state news agency disclosed.
Mo Salah, an Egyptian soccer star who plays for Liverpool and is the captain of his national team, also offered a message of support to those devastated by the tragedy.
"My deepest condolences to the victims of the Abu Sefein Church incident, and my best wishes for a rapid recovery to everyone who was wounded."