At least 41 people have been killed with another 45 injured, after a fire broke out at a packed church in Greater Cairo.
Around 5,000 people were gathered for worship at the Coptic Abu Sifin church in Imbaba, Giza, when a fire broke shortly before 9am, reportedly as the result of an electrical fault.
Security personnel at the scene said that a crush at the entrance to the church contributed to the fatalities, adding that the majority of those killed were children.
Firefighters had managed to extinguish the fire by afternoon, with some 15 fire engines needed to bring the blaze under control. Desperate families remained camped outside the church for news of missing loved ones.
Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi offered his condolences on Twitter: “I offer my sincere condolences to the families of the innocent victims that have passed on to be with their lord in one of his houses of worship.”
Sisi also spoke by phone with the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Tawadros II, to offer his condolences, according to the president’s office. The grand imam of Cairo’s influential al-Azhar mosque, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, also offered his condolences.
An investigation has been launched by prosecutor general Hamada el-Sawy, with officials already at the scene collecting evidence.