At least 27 people killed in Romania nightclub blast

Blaze after fireworks display at Bucharest rock concert leaves 184 people injured

Twenty-five people have been killed in a nightclub blast and fire in Bucharest, Romania, and at least 88 people have been admitted to hospital, government officials said. Video: Reuters

 

Romania’s government has declared three days of national mourning after an overnight fire in a Bucharest nightclub killed 27 people and injured 184 during a rock concert that featured fireworks indoors.

In one of the Romanian capital’s worst disasters in decades, up to 500 people stampeded for the only available exit as the club in the basement of a Communist-era sports shoe factory filled with smoke.

Officials and witnesses said fireworks were used inside the club, while Colectiv Club’s Facebook page advertised pyrotechnic effects at the show.

Deputy interior minister Raed Arafat said 17 of the 27 dead had yet to be identified and 146 people remained in hospital.

He said no fire permit was requested by the club nor granted to them by the Bucharest firefighting department.

“Unfortunately, the death toll may change, taking into account the severity of their injuries,” Mr Arafat said after an emergency meeting early on Saturday.

Romanian president Klaus Iohannis toured Bucharest hospitals to visit the victims and also lit a candle at the club, while some 600 people queued to donate blood.

“I’ve got strong clues the law was broken in this case. I’m revolted that such a tragedy happens in downtown of the capital and innocent youngsters perished,” Mr Iohannis said.

A pillar covered with foam panels and the club’s ceiling went up in flames, followed by an explosion and heavy smoke, witnesses said.

Many of the victims admitted to 12 hospitals had suffered burns and smoke inhalation injuries or had been trampled.

TV footage showed police officers and paramedics trying to resuscitate young people lying on the ground outside the venue as ambulances rushed to the scene.

Prime minister Victor Ponta ordered checks on clubs across the country to see whether safety and firefighting norms are being observed.

“There was a stampede of people running out of the [Colectiv] club,” a witness told reporters.

A young woman who was released from hospital described the club bursting into flames.

“In five seconds the whole ceiling was all on fire. In the next three, we rushed to a single door,” she told television station Antena 3.

Criminal investigation

Deputy prime minister Gabriel Oprea said a criminal investigation into the causes of the incident was already under way at the general prosecutor’s office, but no accusations had been made yet.

Any open fire displays and fireworks in Romania require special authorisation if used in a public indoor place.

Such permits may be granted if the venue is assessed to be safe and equipped with extinguishers, and the fire department deploys several firefighters to the scene.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker sent a message of condolences following the tragedy: “I am greatly saddened to see so many young lives ending so tragically.

“My thoughts are with the grieving families and friends as well as with all those working hard in rescuing and in assisting the victims.”

 

Reuters