Long lines form in Bucharest with people wishing to make donations to help 180 injured in incident at Colectiv
Blood banks in Romania have seen a surge in willing donors as the country responds to the death of at least 27 people in a nightclub fire sparked by pyrotechnics in the centre of Bucharest.
Long lines have formed outside centres in the capital with people wishing to make donations to help the 180 injured in the incident at Colectiv, while the government has announced that there will be three days of national mourning.
Raed Arafat, the head of emergency response at the interior ministry, told the Guardian that the incident “is unprecedented in Romania”.
“All of the wounded have now been identified, and those who died are being examined by the medical examiners,” he added.
The fire broke out at a nightclub where 300 to 400 people, mostly in their teens and early twenties, had gathered to attend a concert. According to one witness speaking to Romanian media, a fireworks display around the stage set nearby objects alight. Another witness told Reuters that a pillar and the club’s ceiling caught fire, then there was an explosion and heavy smoke.
Investigations were under way on Saturday to determine if the venue and organisers had permits for such an event, and if there is cause to proceed with criminal charges against those involved.
Fire regulations are not always strictly observed in Bucharest’s clubs and restaurants, and the event was held in a former-factory-turned-club near the city centre that reportedly had just one main entrance.
“I have indications that the legal regulations were not respected, [and] that the ignorance of the rules and laws led to this tragedy,” Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, said on arriving at Floreasca hospital, where some of the wounded had been taken, on Saturday morning.
“I hope the authorities will end quickly and firmly the investigations and we will have conclusions that we can later explain to the parents, brothers and friends of victims as to why this tragedy happened,” he added.
Friends and family were still waiting for news on the status of survivors. A man in his mid-20s waiting at one of the hospitals told the Guardian: “I found out two of my colleagues were there tonight. They are doing badly. They are currently in intensive care, with severe burns.
“Doctors keep giving numbers of how badly burnt they are but it is hard to tell. I wasn’t there but live nearby and heard the fire trucks and ambulances. I checked with my friends and colleagues to make sure everyone was all right and found out about the two [colleagues]. Around 10 of us have come down to the hospital. The families have seen them but now we won’t know more until the morning. Tomorrow is probably going to be the hardest day.”
Emergency services were quick to respond to emergency calls. News footage showed paramedics and police officers attempting to resuscitate young people on the pavement outside the club. The wounded have been sent to ten hospitals across the city, with off-duty doctors and nurses called in on Friday night to help deal with the emergency.
One member of the band Goodbye to Gravity died and a second is in critical condition, according to Romanian media. Three foreigners are reported to be among the wounded, though the UK Foreign Office said last night that it was not aware of any Britons involved in the incident.
Romania’s prime minister, Victor Ponta, who was on an official trip to Mexico, has cut short his visit to return to Bucharest.