1 of 2 | Firefighters work at the site of a fire that broke out at the Abu Sifine church in Imbaba district of Giza in greater Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday . Photo by Khaled Kamel/EPA-EFE
Aug. 14 (UPI) -- At least 41 people, including 18 children ages 3-16, have died and at least 14 injured from an Egyptian Orthodox church fire caused by an electrical fire in the air conditioning unit in Giza's Imbaba neighborhood in greater Cairo on Sunday, accordng to officials.
Also, at least two officers and three civil protection service members were hurt responding to the fire at Abu Sefein Coptic, Egypt's interior ministry posted on Facebook.
The fire occurred on the church's second floor around 9 a.m., the ministry said. Most deaths and injuries were caused by smoke inside church classrooms, the ministry said.
"We are in continuous contact with the local authorities and the Health Ministry," the head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II said, according to the church spokesperson cited by CNN.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi posted on Twitter he has directed state agencies and institutions to deal with the tragedy and provide care for those injured in the "tragic accident."
"I offer my sincere condolences to the families of the innocent victims who moved to the side of their Lord in one of the houses of worship," El Sisi tweeted.
Mariam Malak, 23, described to CNN the situation.
"I left the church after Sunday mass and was on my way to work when my mom called me, she thought I was caught in the fire. I turned back and saw [the] church in flames. I just missed it by only a few minutes.
"Everyone who was there went up to heavens, including our father Abdel Masih, who led the prayers this morning and a lot of our families and friends. We are trying to identify everyone now."
The Imbaba neighbourhood, where the attack took place, is known as a hotbed of religious extremists and Salafis, The New Arab reported.