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Egypt: Dozens killed in Coptic church fire in Giza

Religious officials say more than 40 dead, scores wounded after blaze engulfs Abu Sifin Coptic church in Imbaba neighbourhood during mass
People and policemen gather near the scene where a deadly fire broke out at the Abu Sifin church in Giza, 14 August (Reuters)

More than 40 people have been killed in a blaze that engulfed a Coptic church in Egypt's Giza on Sunday, religious officials said. 

Scores more were wounded, the health ministry said, with the number of casualties expected to rise. 

Two security sources told Reuters that an electrical fire broke out as 5,000 worshippers gathered for mass at the Abu Sifin Coptic church in the working-class neighbourhood in Imbaba, leading to a stampede. 

A view of the damage at the Abu Sifin church where a deadly fire broke out in Giza (Reuters)
A view of the damage at the Abu Sifin church where a deadly fire broke out in Giza (Reuters)

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It remains unclear what caused the fire, with prosecutors saying they will send a team to investigate the blaze.

Images online show the fire ravaging the church as firefighters fought to quell the flames.

A spokesperson for Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said the Egyptian president offered his condolences to Pope Tawadros, who heads the Coptic Church in Egypt. 

"During the call, he emphasised that all state institutions would provide the necessary support to contain the effects of this painful incident," he said in a Facebook post.

Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East, making up at least 10 million people in Egypt's 103 million population. 

The community has faced multiple attacks, with a spike in militant attacks on Coptic churches, shcools and homes being seen after Sisi took power in a 2013 military coup.

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