Death toll rises to 41 in Romanian nightclub fire

Sunday, November 8, 2015

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

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

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

Several 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 one 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 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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