At least two officers and three civil protection service members were injured responding to the fire at Abu Sefein church, Egypt’s interior ministry announced in a Facebook post.
The statement added that the fire started around 9 a.m. local time and was caused by an electrical failure in an air conditioning unit on the church’s second floor.
Most of the deaths and injuries were caused by smoke inside church classrooms after the electric failure, the interior 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.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi tweeted his condolences to the victims of the fire at Abu Sefein church.
“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 said.
The Egyptian president said he is closely following developments of the “tragic accident” and that he has directed state agencies and institutions to take the necessary measures to immediately deal with the tragedy and provide care for those injured.