CAIRO: The Egyptian Ministry of Health announced that 55 people had been taken to hospital after a fire broke out at the Abu Sefein Church in the north of Giza on Sunday.
In a statement, the Coptic Orthodox Church said that a large fire broke out during the Divine Liturgy, and that a number of worshipers were transferred from the scene to Imbaba General Hospital and Agouza Hospital.
The statement added that, according to sources from the Ministry of Health, the number of deaths has so far reached 41 people with a further 14 injured.
These numbers are unconfirmed, with the tally expected to change.
Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, the official spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Population, confirmed that 30 ambulances were dispatched to the church, and people taken to the two local hospitals.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi made a phone call to Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences to the victims of the accident.
During the call, El-Sisi stressed that all state institutions would provide the necessary support to contain the effects of the fire.
Abdel Ghaffar said the state of readiness at hospitals in Giza and Cairo had been raised, and that all blood types and emergency medicines are available at the facilities receiving the injured.
The General Administration of Civil Protection in Giza sent firefighters and vehicles to fight the blaze, which was swiftly brought under control.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly sent his sincere condolences to and expressed sympathy for the families of the victims.
Forensics and other authorities, meanwhile, are on the scene to determine the cause of the fire.
Public Prosecutor Hamada Al-Sawy issued a statement that an investigation team had been formed, and that the Public Prosecution would announce its results in due course.
The preliminary examination of the forensic evidence suggests the fire broke out in the air-conditioning system on the second floor of the church building, which includes a number of classrooms, as a result of an electrical fault.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia expressed “great sadness and sorrow” over the fire and offered its deepest and sincere condolences to the government and people of Egypt, wishing the injured a speedy recovery, and security and safety for Egypt and its people, Saudi Press Agency reported.