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Romania disco fire toll rises

09 November 2015, 08:13

Bucharest - Four more people died on Sunday from injuries suffered in a horrific October 30 nightclub fire in Bucharest that brought down Romania's government, bringing the death toll to 45, hospital officials said.

Among the latest victims was the drummer of a local hard rock group, on stage when the fire broke out, who was being flown to a Swiss hospital for treatment.

The plane carrying the musician turned back when he took a turn for the worst shortly after take-off. The group's two guitarists died the day after the blaze while two others are still seriously hurt in hospital.

Three other people - two young Romanians and a Turkish tourist - died earlier on Sunday.

"The next seven days will be the most difficult with regards to treating the wounded," Health Minister Nicolae Banicioiu said on Saturday. "We welcome any help, any medical teams coming from abroad."

Romanian media criticised the authorities for failing to transfer some of the wounded to hospitals abroad in time.

"Why has Romania not asked for international help before?" Gandul daily wrote, adding that the country's hospitals were struggling to treat more than 140 people injured in the tragedy at the Colectiv nightclub.

Eighteen people were transferred abroad on Saturday - eight to Belgium, eight to the Netherlands and two to Austria. Two more will be flown to Britain and Hungary on Sunday, the defence ministry said.

Doctors say some 100 wounded remain hospitalised, among them 44 in critical condition.

The fire broke out when fireworks let off during a rock band's performance triggered a blaze and a stampede as panicked revellers tried to flee.

The tragedy sparked mass anti-government protests, with many viewing compromised safety standards at the club as emblematic of Romania's wider problem with rampant corruption.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who had been under pressure for weeks as he goes on trial on corruption charges, quit on Wednesday, saying it was right for top officials to take responsibility for the tragedy.

Initial investigations suggest numerous breaches of the safety rules at the club, including a lack of emergency exits and the fact that flammable materials were used for sound insulation.

The club's three bosses, detained since Tuesday on manslaughter charges, did not have the authorisation to host concerts, let alone pyrotechnic shows.

Ponta's resignation has not stemmed the huge protests by Romanians demanding a "profound change" in the way the country is governed.



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