Three people were killed and dozens more injured Sunday when thousands of grieving Coptic Christians packed St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo to bid farewell to Pope Shenouda III.
The Deputy Health Minister Hisham Sheeha, said overcrowding in the building resulted in a stampede, killing three mourners and injuring 52 others, most of which suffered from low blood pressure and insufficient oxygen.
Shenouda died Saturday at age 88 after a long illness, setting in motion the process to elect a new patriarch for the Middle East’s largest Christian community.
Tens of thousands of mourners converged on the cathedral in a line that stretched for nearly a mile (1.6km), as military vehicles lined the road outside.
Shenouda’s body, dressed in formal robes with a golden crown on his head, was placed upright on the tall ornate papal throne where it will remain sitting in state until the funeral Tuesday.
Based on wishes stated in his will, Shenouda will be buried at St. Bishoy monastery of Wadi Natrun in the Nile Delta, where he spent time in exile after a dispute with the late president Anwar Sadat.