A fire and explosion at Colectiv Club in Bucharest on Friday night has left 27 people dead and another 155 injured. The fire was caused by a fireworks display that was set off during a rock concert at the venue.
This is one of the worst disasters in decades in Romania’s capital city. Approximately 400 people, mostly young adults, ran for the exists as the basement of a former communist-era factory flooded with smoke.
Witnesses report that fireworks were set off inside the club. Colectiv’s Facebook page confirms that there was a pyrotechnics display scheduled during the show on Friday night. One of the basement’s pillars and the ceiling caught on fire. An explosion and heavy smoke began filling the club.
“In five seconds the whole ceiling was all on fire. In the next three, we rushed to a single door,” a young woman told local reporters. The woman had been injured during the incident, but was released from hospital with minor injuries.
Deputy Interior Minister Raed Arafat informed news sources that victims from the incident were taken to 10 hospitals throughout Bucharest. Many victims were without ID when they arrived at the hospitals.
“The situation is slowly stabilizing … we have many people with burns, intoxicated with smoke and people squashed,” he said.
An investigation into the incident is already underway, and Romania’s health minister has launched a campaign to encourage the public to donate blood, according to Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea.
In light of the tragedy, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis released the following statement: “And to assure you of all support from rescuing forces and ask you to trust they put all efforts to limit the impact of this catastrophe.”
As a result of the catastrophe, an emergency cabinet meeting has been scheduled for Saturday morning to discuss the situation.
This is not the first time that nightclub fireworks have resulted in tragedy. In 2013 at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil a flare lit inside the club and resulted in a fire that killed at least 241 people. Similar incidents occurred in Russia’s Perm, killing 156 people in 2009, and Argentina’s Buenos Aires, killing 194 people in 2004.