Church leader: Instinct saved us

2019-05-21 16:32
The bus that was damaged by a roadside bomb near the Giza pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday. Several church members from Durban were injured in the explosion. PHOTO: REUTERS

The bus that was damaged by a roadside bomb near the Giza pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday. Several church members from Durban were injured in the explosion. PHOTO: REUTERS

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Congregants from a Pietermaritzburg Catholic church had originally planned to go on the trip to Egypt during which Durban parishioners were injured by a bomb that struck their bus on Sunday.

But for various reasons the people from the St Francis of Assisi Parish in Eastwood pulled out of the church pilgrimage during the planning phase.

The injured — from the St Francis Xavier Catholic Parish and the Christ the King Roman Catholic Church in the Bluff and Wentworth — were on the final leg of their tour and on their way to see the pyramids near Cairo when a roadside bomb containing nails and pieces of metal exploded.

On Monday, St Francis of Assisi Parish priest Father Sanil Michael told The Witness that the congregants who had cancelled the trip were “reeling in shock”.

“It is very shocking. Thank God we did not lose anyone,” he said.

“We had church members who were supposed to go on this trip but somehow they didn’t go. It must have been a gut feeling thing.”

Seven people were injured in the explosion.

Among the injured was Father Mike Foley, the spiritual director of St Francis Xavier Catholic Parish.

The parish had organised the trip to Egypt. About 14 from the parish were on the bus. The parishioners had left for Egypt on May 8 and were due to return home on Sunday night.

Father Michael said Foley, who served in Pietermaritzburg for about 12 years, started the mission of building the Catholic church in Eastwood in 1983.

“I worked in Egypt and it is shocking that something like that could happen, but we believe in Jesus,” he said.

The explosion occurred close to the Giza pyramids just outside Cairo.

The church members landed at the OR Tambo International Airport on Monday morning and were back in Durban by late Monday afternoon.

A spokesperson from the St Francis Xavier Catholic Parish told The Witness on Monday that the church members were grateful no one had died during the explosion.

“They had a wonderful time. Cairo was their last stop and they had been on their way to see the pyramids when the bomb went off,” said the spokesperson.

She said most of the church members sustained injuries from flying glass.

“One side of the bus had glass shattered by the blast, and two parishioners had more serious injuries. One required surgery on Sunday night but they are all okay today,” she said.

The parish spokesperson confirmed that four people had been left in Egypt, with three of the congregants still in hospital.

Reuters reported that Egyptian security forces killed 12 suspected Islamist militants in Cairo on Monday.

The Interior Ministry did not say whether the suspected militants were connected to Sunday’s attack, but said its forces killed the suspects during raids on their hideouts, where it said members of the militant group Hasm were planning a series of attacks in the country to create an “atmosphere of chaos”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  egypt bus bomb

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