Fr Danial Maher said he remembers seeing his son singing with the other deacons before the deadly explosions

The priest of St George’s Church in the northern Egyptian city of Tanta, where a suicide bomber killed at least 27 people, says he lost his 23-year-old son, who was among six deacons killed in the attack.

“In just seconds, the entire church was filled with smoke, fire, blood, and screams,” Fr Danial Maher told the Associated Press over the phone from Tanta today where he buried his son, Beshoy last night.

The pair arrived at the church early on Sunday morning to start the Palm Sunday Mass; Beshoy wore white deacon’s robes and sang religious hymns. “He was like an angel, standing in the middle of the deacons singing,” Fr Maher said.

Pictures of Maher went viral on social media, showing him sitting helplessly in blood-stained robes.

The Islamic State affiliate in Egypt claimed responsibility for the attack. Fr Maher said he didn’t recall any unusual movements, but other worshippers told him that they saw a man rushing inside the church before the explosion.

A 15-year veteran of the church, Fr Danial said that the church “definitely” was in need of better security but stopped short of blaming the government.