Death toll rises to 41 in Romanian nightclub fire

AP News
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Posted: Nov 07, 2015 4:48 PM
Death toll rises to 41 in Romanian nightclub fire

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Nine more people died with burn-related injuries on Saturday, just over a week after a fire broke out in a Bucharest nightclub, authorities said, bringing the death toll in the tragedy to 41.

Many in Romania have blamed lax government safety standards for the deadly blaze. Prime Minister Victor Ponta and his Cabinet resigned Wednesday after mass protests.

The district mayor where the nightclub is located was arrested, along with two town hall employees, for giving out a permit without it being authorized by firefighters, the anti-corruption prosecutors' office said Saturday. Mayor Cristian Popescu Piedone resigned on Wednesday, saying he was morally guilty for the fire.

Multiple hospitals reported deaths Saturday from the Oct. 30 blaze, which erupted at the Colectiv basement nightclub during a heavy metal concert when a spark from a pyrotechnic show ignited foam decor. Panicked people fled for the sole exit in a stampede, leaving 180 injured.

Adrian Stanculea, spokesman for the state burns hospital, said three men died at that facility, while the manager at University Hospital, Catalin Cirstoiu, said a man there died of his injuries.

Raed Arafat, an emergency situations official, said two patients who had been sent to the Netherlands for specialized burns treatment had died, including a 20-year-old Italian woman who was a student in Romania. Eight patients were transported by military plane to the Netherlands for treatment, he said.

Interim Prime Minister Sorin Campeanu said a patient at the Floreasca emergency hospital in Bucharest also succumbed to his injuries. A second person died later at the same hospital, said hospital spokesman Ioan Lascar.

The ninth person to die Saturday was a woman who had been in a critical state since the fire. She died at the Bagdasar-Arseni hospital said hospital spokesman, Andrei Carantino.

Campeanu said earlier Saturday that 109 other people still remained hospitalized, 48 of them in serious or critical condition.

Late Saturday, a couple of thousand protesters gathered in Bucharest for the fifth consecutive evening, waving Romanian flags and calling for better governance and an end to corruption.

"The political class is inefficient and corrupt. We need a government of technocrats or experts," said protester Cristina Lotrea, a 22-year-old sociology researcher.

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A previous version of this story has been corrected to show that the first name of the University Hospital spokeswoman is Catalin, not Catalan.