Fire at Coptic Church in Egypt Leads to Stampede and at Least 41 Deaths

CAIRO — A fire tore through a packed Egyptian Coptic Orthodox church in greater Cairo early on Sunday, setting off a stampede and killing at least 41 people, including several children and the church’s bishop. The blaze added to the trauma of a beleaguered Christian minority and raised questions in a country long criticized for its fire-safety and building standards.

Worshipers had gathered for Sunday prayers at Abu Sefein Church — one of the largest in Giza — when the blaze broke out around 9 a.m. local time, sending people fleeing to the roof and windows to seek safety.

Footage shared on social media and verified by The New York Times showed churchgoers screaming for help from windows as thick smoke poured out from the building. People could be seen in other footage on the church’s roof as flames spread around them.

The fire appeared to have been caused by a faulty air-conditioning unit on the second floor of the multistoried building, which also housed classrooms,…

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This article was written by Nada Rashwan, Euan Ward and Liam Stack and originally published on www.nytimes.com