Just days before the start of millennium celebrations, Christian leaders in Jerusalem have not yet found a solution to an acute security problem for visiting pilgrims at one of the holiest sites in Jerusalem.

According to the Israeli government, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher—which marks the place where Christ is said to have been buried and risen from the dead—is a fire trap, where hundreds could die in the event of a blaze.

The church has only one gate, used for both entrance and exit, making it a high risk for visitors should a fire break out.

No agreement has yet been reached to open a new emergency exit in time for next year when huge crowds are expected to flood the shrine to celebrate the two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of Christ.

The shrine has been ablaze more than once. In 1808, a fire swept through the Holy Sepulcher, collapsing the dome of the church and also damaging the tomb of Christ itself.

And in 1834 more than three hundred people reportedly died when panic spread through the crowd attending the mass lighting of candles during the Easter Holy Fire Ceremony of the Greek Orthodox community. Many perished from suffocation and others were trampled to death as people rushed to the only door, which had been closed to prevent the crowds outside from entering the already packed area.

There are many who fear this could happen again next year during the same ceremony.

One of them is Uri Mor, director of the department for Christian communities, in the Israeli Ministry for Religious Affairs

"It's very dangerous," he told Ecumenical News International (ENI). "It goes without saying. I am saying it publicly and writing another report every month about it. It's obvious if you put 20,000 people or 70,000 people with ...

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