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Egypt Church Fire: 18 Children Among 41 People Killed

Egypt Church Fire: 18 Children Among 41 People Killed
folder_openEgypt access_timeone month ago
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By Staff, Agencies

At least 18 children lost their lives in a fire that killed dozens of worshippers gathered for Sunday morning mass at a church in Giza, greater Cairo.

The toll stands at 41 dead and 14 injured, Egypt's Coptic Church said in a statement, citing health officials. Hospital documents obtained by CNN show the children were ages 3 to 16.

The fire started at about 9 am local time due to an electrical failure in an air conditioning unit on the church's second floor, Egypt's Interior Ministry said. The small church is located in the highly populated Imbaba neighborhood.

Most of the deaths and injuries were caused by smoke inside church classrooms after the electrical failure, the ministry said in a Facebook post.

At least two officers and three civil protection service members were injured responding to the fire, the ministry said.

Church officials also believe the fire was accidental, said Coptic Church spokesperson Archpriest Moussa Ibrahim, adding a priest was among those killed.

Egypt's Coptic community and churches have been a target of religious-based violence and attacks historically, with persecution and discrimination spiking since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime in 2011.

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.