Egyptian police gather outside the Abu Sifin church located in the densely populated Imbaba neighbourhood west of the Nile river, part of Giza governorate, on August 14, 2022, after more than 40 people were killed when a fire ripped through a Coptic Christian church during Sunday mass. - Witnesses described how people rushed into the burning house of worship to rescue those trapped but were soon overwhelmed by the heat and the deadly smoke. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

At least 41 people died in a fire in a Coptic church in Greater Cairo. This was announced by the country’s church on Sunday, at the same time medical circles in Egypt confirmed the same number of deaths to the German Press Agency. The Ministry of Health had previously spoken of 55 injuries.

The fire reportedly broke out near the end of a Sunday morning church service in Giza, in the Imbaba district. The interior ministry said a faulty air conditioner on an upper floor of the church caused the fire. As a result, mass panic broke out, several media reports.

After about two hours, civil protection brought the fire under control. A team from the public prosecutor’s office also set out to investigate the scene of the fire and to further clarify the exact cause.

According to the private newspaper “Al-Masry Al-Youm”, eyewitnesses said that a short circuit had occurred there after a power failure. In Cairo on Sunday, the temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius, which are usual for August, prevailed.

According to the Ministry of Health, 30 ambulances were deployed to take care of the victims and take them to nearby hospitals. The ambulances arrived at the scene of the fire minutes after the emergency call and took 55 people to hospitals.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called Copt Pope Tawadros II to express his condolences. The country’s authorities would provide all support after the tragic incident. Local media published images of a burned-out room full of pews and pictures of saints on the wall.