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Rescuers found three dead and several injured at the ancient monastery collapse in Egypt. Source: Youssef Sidhom.

Three Crushed To Death In Ancient Egyptian Monastery Collapse

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Three dead bodies have been retrieved from a collapsed ancient monastery wall in Upper Egypt .

On Sunday night Egyptian Civil protection forces faced the terrible task of retrieving three bodies from beneath the rubble of a collapsed wall at the ancient Monastery of Saint Fana in Mallawi, a city located in Upper Egypt's Minya Governorate approximately 152 miles (245 kilometers) south of Cairo on the western bank of the Nile River.

The 2,800 square foot (260 square meter) Monastery of Saint Fana was constructed in the 6th century AD with mud bricks, and over 1,400 years the infrastructure apparently deteriorated under the blazing Egyptian sun leading to the event on Sunday night when one of its walls collapsed, claiming the lives of two four year old children and a 50 year old lady, with four others being seriously injured.

Minya Is As Holy As Can Be, According To The Big Three

According to Al-Islam.org Minya was the birthplace of Maria bint Shamʿūn , better known as Maria the Copt, the Egyptian woman, after being sold as a slave along with her sister Sirin to the  Islamic prophet  Muhammad in 628 AD by Muqawqis, bore Muhammad a son called Ibrahim. And being so intimately associated with stories of Muhammad it is no surprise that Minya is home to hundreds of important ancient mosques, where among the most revered are the Egyptian Mosque and Al Foley Mosque.

The Saint Fana Monastery is one of several holy sites in the area. (Youssef Sidhom)

The Saint Fana Monastery is one of several holy sites in the area. ( Youssef Sidhom )

But also present in this ancient city are the ancient Egyptian Tel Al-Amarna monuments, the Tuna el-Gebel ancient Greek monuments, and at El-Bahnasa archaeologists have found Egyptian, Greek, Christian, and Islamic monuments, making the entire region an epicenter of development for the largest religions in the modern world. And no better can this statement be exemplified than at the Monastery of the Virgin, or “Dair al-Adhra”, only 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) northeast of Minya City in which the Holy Family spent a night during their journey in Egypt, making this a major site of Christian pilgrimage .

The Monastery Collapse Investigation Begins

An Egypt Independent article says an archaeological engineering committee from the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities includes Gamal Mostafa, the head of the Islamic, Coptic, and Jewish Antiquities Sector and, Waad-Allah Abul-Ela, the head of the Projects Sector at the Ministry, and they have been sent to Mallawi to follow up on the accident and to assess the situation.

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities is investigating the Saint Fana Monastery collapse. (Youssef Sidhom)

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities is investigating the Saint Fana Monastery collapse. ( Youssef Sidhom )

The committee has been specifically tasked with conducting a comprehensive inspection of the collapsed monastery site and to “intervene immediately” if any further hazards or risks present themselves. But secondly, their archaeological goals are to apply “urgent measures” to protect the ancient monastery, which is known locally as the Monastery of the Cross due to the number of beautifully decorated crosses that were once featured within, but this name might now hold deeper connotations to Christians in light of these awful circumstances.

Even With the Monastery Collapse Disaster, Egypt Is Safer Than Ever Before

A spokesperson from the ministry expressed deep regret over the tragic incident and offered condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, who now have to find a semblance of reason for this awful accident. The whole case has been referred to the public prosecution to be investigated.

Several agencies have expressed condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims that lost their lives in the partial monastery collapse. ( Youssef Sidhom )

So far as the loss to archaeology is concerned, a senior official from the ministry said that the Islamic, Coptic, and Jewish Antiquities sectors had all “addressed” the ancient Coptic church, along with the Bishop of Mallawi several times over the past year, regarding the measures to be taken for the monastery’s restoration and to provide the necessary funds”. It looks like they acted just a moment too late and the time damaged building just gave up.

After the  Egyptian revolution of 2011 the number of visitors to Egypt plummeted by over 37% that year, falling from 14 million in 2010 to 9 million by the end of 2011, however over the last two years tourism has experienced tremendous recovery returning to the figures of 2010.

This accident shouldn’t deter anyone from visiting the ancient nation, for it should be remembered that across the hundreds of tourist facilities incidents of collapse and such unpredictable accidents are rare, and compared to the troubles of less than a decade ago, you are as safe as houses in Egypt.

Three people lost their lives in the partial Saint Fana Monastery collapse. (Youssef Sidhom)

Three people lost their lives in the partial Saint Fana Monastery collapse. ( Youssef Sidhom )

Top image: Rescuers found three dead and several injured at the ancient monastery collapse in Egypt. Source: Youssef Sidhom .

By Ashley Cowie

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