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At least 40, many of them children, killed in Egyptian church fire

CAIRO (REUTERS) - At least 40 people were killed and 45 injured in a fire at a church in the Egyptian city of Giza on Sunday (Aug 14), two security sources told Reuters.

An electrical fire broke out during mass as 5,000 people gathered at the Coptic Abu Sifin church in the Imbaba neighbourhood, the sources said.

The fire blocked an entrance to the church, causing a stampede, they said, adding that most of those killed were children.

"People were gathering on the third and fourth floor, and we saw smoke coming from the second floor. People rushed to go down the stairs and started falling on top of each other," said Mr Yasir Munir, a worshipper at the church.

"Then we heard a bang and sparks and fire coming out of the window."

Mr Yasir said he and his daughter were on the ground floor and able to escape.

Giza, Egypt's second-largest city, lies just across the Nile from Cairo.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a tweet: "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."

Mr Maher Murad said he left his sister at the church after prayers.

"As soon as I got away from the church by only 10m, I heard the sound of screaming and saw thick smoke," he said.

"After the firefighters doused the fire, I recognised my sister's body. The bodies are all charred, and many of them are children, who were in a nursery room in the church."

EGYPTFIRES