A deadly nightclub fire in Romania’s capital of Bucharest last night has left 27 people dead and at least 180 injured after a fireworks display gone awry during a heavy metal concert.
A free heavy metal concert put on by the Bucharest-based band Goodbye To Gravity ended in tragedy last night, after a pyrotechnics display got out of hand. According to 680 News, witnesses said a spark from the band’s fireworks display ignited some polystyrene decor and that the Colectiv Nightclub — housed in a former factory — where the concert was held, was almost entirely engulfed in flames within minutes.
Delia Tugui, teacher at the American International School of Bucharest, was at the nightclub with her husband and son when the fire began. She took to her Facebook page to explain the horrors that she witnessed during what is being called “the worst disaster of its kind ever in Romania,” explaining that the hundreds of people inside the nightclub when the fire began, only had one single, small door from which to make their escape.
“In 30 seconds…the fire spread all over the ceiling. People rushed to the entrance but it was too narrow, and people panicked. Behind me people stampeded, climbing over each other, to try and get out. Friends were looking for each other under the pile of people. Asking ‘Is it you? Where are you? I can’t see you. Is that your arm?’ It was a nightmare.”
She added that she realized quickly that some people — especially those on the other side of the bar — would not escape the inferno alive.
Among the injured is the band’s lead singer, Alex Pascu, who’s currently being treated at Bucharest’s Floreasca Emergency Hospital, and sadly, the band’s bassist, Alex Telea, is still missing. He was reported unaccounted for by his parents.
Since many of the victims of the Bucharest nightclub fire did not have any identification on them, the government has set up a hotline where family and friends can call to get information on their loved ones that may have been at the nightclub, and Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, promised the government’s full support to the victims and the families of those caught in the nightclub fire. He also stated that investigators are inquiring whether the nightclub had the necessary fire safety permits, reports the Guardian, while 680 News reports that prosecutors are investigating potential manslaughter charges.
Romania’s premier, Victor Ponta, cut short a trip to Mexico to return to Bucharest, where he immediately declared three days of mourning for the victims of the nightclub fire.
Romanian media outlets are reporting that there were roughly 300 to 400 people inside Bucharest’s Colectiv nightclub when the fire started, and some remained missing as of Saturday morning. Witnesses to the nightclub fire are speaking out about the terror they saw. One young woman who escaped with only minor injuries spoke to Bucharest TV station Antena 3, and described the nightmarish scene.
“In five seconds the whole ceiling was all on fire. In the next three we rushed to a single door.”
Bogdan Oprita, spokesman for Bucharest’s Floreasca Emergency Hospital, said in a statement that it was the “worst bloodshed since the 1989 anti-Communist revolution.”
“It was like a war. Dozens of surgeons were called from home and asked to operate.”
Romania’s health minister, Nicolae Bănicioiu, has said that heath workers are doing everything they can to “save those who can be saved.” He said victims of the nightclub fire are being transported to emergency hospitals, doctors and nurses from all over Bucharest are being called in from nights off, and ventilators are being sent, where needed, from other hospitals.
President Iohannis visited the nightclub burn victims in their hospitals and has spoken with multiple family members of victims, whom he said are “disgusted that such a thing could happen.” He has made a vow to do everything in his power to ensure that nothing like the Bucharest nightclub fire ever happens again.