MARCH 19 2012 13:29h
3 die at viewing of Coptic Pope Shenouda
The three were in a mass of people paying respects Monday to Pope Shenouda III, who died after a long illness.
Tens of thousands of people assembled outside the church, waiting for a chance to view the body, officials said.
Authorities appealed to mourners to avoid overcrowding, telling them they'll have time to view the pope's body, which is to remain in state until his funeral Tuesday, Sky News reported.
Shenouda died Saturday.
"It's a great loss for Egypt. He was wise and was widely listened to. He will be missed at a time when we need wisdom and a patriotic spirit," Minister of Tourism Munir Fakhry Abdelnur said.
Shenouda's death set in motion the process to elect a new patriarch for the Christian Coptic community.
Bishops from around the world were traveling to Cairo to attend the funeral, the British network said.
Shenouda is to be buried at the St. Bishoy Monastery in Wadi al-Natroun in accordance with wishes stated in his will, Ahram Online said.
Shenouda was elected as pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria in 1971 but was placed under house arrest in 1981 due to arguments with the late Anwar Sadat over ties with Israel, Ahram Online said. Four years later, his papal position was fully restored by former President Hosni Mubarak.
CAIRO, March 19 (UPI) -- Three people died of suffocation at a Cairo church crowded with thousands of Coptic Christian mourners gathered to view their leader's body, officials said.