Bucharest nightclub fire: Romanian president suggests rules ignored

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis (front) visits Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, 31 October 2015 Image copyright EPA
Image caption President Klaus Iohannis visited the site of the fire on Saturday

Romania's president has said safety regulations seem to have been ignored in a Bucharest nightclub where a fire killed 27 people on Friday night.

Survivors say the fire started after a heavy metal band set off fireworks, causing the ceiling and a pillar to catch alight and producing heavy smoke.

A stampede for the exit followed. More than 140 people are being treated in hospital, some with severe burns.

Romania has declared three days of national mourning.

"I am saddened, but also revolted that a tragedy of this scale could have taken place in Bucharest," President Klaus Iohannis said.

"We already have indications that the legal regulations had not been respected," he said.

"I hope that the authorities manage their inquiry with speed and rigour."

The fire broke out at about 23:00 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.

Image copyright Vlad Busca
Image caption This picture posted on Facebook by Vlad Busca showed fireworks on stage just before the fire
Image copyright Alex Sanda
Image caption A photo posted by Alex Sanda shows a pillar on fire

Some people initially thought the fire was part of the show, survivors said.

Local journalist Sorin Bogdan told the BBC the club was in a converted former factory with two small exit doors, only one of which was possible to open initially.

A witness quoted by Romania's state news agency said terrified concert-goers had to break the second door down to escape.

"People were fainting, they were fainting because of the smoke. It was total chaos, people were trampled," witness Victor Ionescu told local television station Antena 3.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption People have laid flowers and candles outside the club

Some 200 people suffered injuries, including from burns and smoke inhalation. Officials have warned that the death toll may rise.

Hundreds of people who responded to appeals for blood donations queued outside hospitals and blood banks on Saturday.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta cut short a visit to Mexico to return to Bucharest.

It is not the first time pyrotechnics used in a nightclub have caused a deadly fire.

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