Europe

Bucharest nightclub fire: Three owners arrested

Costin Mincu (centre), one of the owners of the Colectiv nightclub, leaves the general prosecutor's office handcuffed in Bucharest, Romania 2 November 2015 Image copyright AP
Image caption Each of the tree suspects - including Costin Mincu (centre) - appeared at the general prosecutor's office on Monday

Three owners of a nightclub in Romania where 31 people died in a fire on Friday have been arrested for suspected manslaughter, prosecutors say.

The men were questioned for several hours about the Bucharest blaze, which started when fireworks were set off by a band performing at the venue.

Witnesses and Romanian media have queried safety standards at the club.

They are concerned about the lack of an emergency exit and the use of flammable material to soundproof the building.

The three arrested men, aged between 28 and 36, were questioned for several hours on Monday about the fire, the AFP news agency reported. It said one of those being held is a barman with shares in several clubs.

None of those arrested has made any comment.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hundreds of candles have been placed at the scene of the disaster
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Romanian people have been left in shock in the aftermath of the blaze
Image copyright Vlad Busca
Image caption This picture posted on Facebook by Vlad Busca showed fireworks on stage just before the fire

The club is suspected of not being authorised to hold concerts or to stage pyrotechnic displays, Interior Ministry Secretary of State Raed Arafat is quoted as saying. Prosecutors are also inquiring into who should have insured the premises.

The trio - named as Costin Mincu, Alin George Anastasescu and Paul Gancea - are accused of allowing the club to be overcrowded and of not taking sufficient steps to ensure it had enough emergency exits.

In a separate development the owners of three other night clubs admitted they had recklessly failed to uphold safety standards, the AP news agency reported.

It said that all three have apologised for their actions, with one confessing that he had put thousands of lives in danger and another conceding he had been "ignorant and irresponsible".

Friday's fire broke out at about 23:00 (21:00 GMT) at the Colectiv club, which was hosting a free rock concert by the band Goodbye to Gravity. Up to 400 people are thought to have been inside.

Survivors say the fireworks caused the ceiling and a pillar to catch fire and produce heavy smoke.

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