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News 09 Nov 15

Bucharest Nightclub Death Toll Rises, Ex-Mayor Arrested

The number of people who died in a nightclub fire in the Romanian capital has risen to 46, while a former mayor has been arrested over his alleged responsibility for the tragedy.

Marian Chiriac
Tributes to the victims outside the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest. | Photo: Mirela Britchi.

Thirteen more people died over the weekend of burns-related injuries after a blaze started by fireworks at a rock concert at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest on October 30, bringing the number killed in the tragedy to 46.

As protests blaming the fire on official corruption continued on Sunday, the authorities said the coming days would be decisive for the remaining patients who are severely injured.

"The next seven days will be the most difficult with regards to treating the wounded," Health Minister Nicolae Banicioiu said on Saturday.

There are still some 100 people in hospital suffering from burns, smoke inhalation and other injuries. Some 45 of them are in a critical condition.

Romania has started to send victims of the fire for treatment in clinics abroad, in Austria, Belgium, Israel and the Netherlands. Twenty were transferred abroad during the weekend.

Next week, hospitals in Norway, France, UK and Germany will also take some of the fire victims from Romania. A NATO plane came to Bucharest on Sunday to help with transportation.

The Romanian government will cover the costs for all patients treated abroad.

In related development, Cristian Popescu Piedone, the mayor of the district where the nightclub was located, was arrested Saturday, along with two town hall employees, for giving out a permit without it being authorised by firefighters. The mayor resigned last week, saying he was morally guilty over the fire.

In the meantime, thousands of protesters gathered late Sunday for the sixth consecutive evening, calling for better governance and an end to corruption.

President Klaus Iohannis, who visited the protesters late Sunday, is to resume consultations early this week with political parties over the nomination of a new prime minister after Victor Ponta resigned Wednesday following mass protests over the nightclub fire.

Twenty-six people were killed in the club on October 30 following a fire caused by pyrotechnics set off during a heavy metal concert. The club has been accused of not having the authority to hold concerts or to stage pyrotechnic displays. The venue was also overcrowded on the night.

Around 400 people were inside the Colectiv in a space suitable for only a quarter of that number. A pillar covered with foam caught fire and the blaze quickly spread to the ceiling.

As hundreds of partygoers rushed to the only working exit door at the venue, pieces of the burning ceiling fell onto the crowd.

A second exit door was later opened, but many people had by then already suffered burns.

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