At least 41 people are believed to have been killed in a fire at a church near the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

The death toll was announced by the country’s Coptic Church, citing health officials.

Fourteen other people were reportedly injured.

An electrical fire broke out as 5,000 worshipers gathered for mass at the Abu Sifin Coptic Church in the Imbaba district, sources told Reuters news agency.

The fire blocked an entrance to the church, causing a stampede, they said, adding that most of those killed were children.

“People were gathering on the third and fourth floors, and we saw smoke coming out of the second floor,” said Yasir Munir, a worshiper at the church.

“People rushed down the stairs and started falling on top of each other.

“Then we heard a bang, sparks and fire coming out of the window,” he said, saying he and his daughter were downstairs and could escape.

The Interior Ministry said it received a report of the fire at 9 a.m. local time and that the fire started in an air conditioner on the second floor of the building.

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A view of the damage to the church


President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi spoke by telephone with Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences, the president’s office said.

“I am closely following the evolution of this tragic accident,” el-Sisi wrote on Facebook.

“I have ordered all relevant state agencies and institutions to take all necessary measures and immediately deal with this accident and its effects.”

Sunday’s blaze is one of the worst fire dramas in recent years in a country with poorly enforced safety standards and fire regulations.

In March last year, a fire at a garment factory near Cairo killed at least 20 people and injured 24 others.

August 14, 2022, Egypt, Giza: People inspect the scene where a massive fire broke out during a Sunday service at the Abu Sefein Coptic Church in Giza.  At least 41 people have died and dozens have been seriously injured after a mass fire broke out in the Coptic church.  Photo by: Mahmoud El-Khawas/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Image:
People inspect the scene of the fatal fire. Photo: AP