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March 24, 2023

Flags half-staffed throughout Romania in three-day mourning over fire victims

The Official Journal of Romania has published on Saturday the Government’s decree of three days of national mourning, from October 31 through November 2, in remembrance of the victims of the Friday night fire in a club of Bucharest.

The Government Decision stipulates that Romania’s flags will be half-staffed everywhere in the country, at embassies and other national institutions abroad, and half-masted on all ships flying them.

Also, the televisions, radio stations and cultural institutions should adapt their programmes accordingly, the act reads.

The National Theatre Festival had already announced the cancellation of four shows in Bucharest theatres over its final days.

Bucharest’s Schools Inspectorate also issued a half-staff decision before the Government’s.

Romania’s Liga I top soccer league did not cancel its 16th week matches, but called the teams to observe a moment of silence before playing, and wear black armbands.

Five victims of Bucharest fire still unidentified

Five of the 27 people dead in the Friday night fire in Bucharest’s ‘Colectiv’ club are still unidentified, the General Prosecutor’s office announced in a release on Saturday evening. The Institute of Forensic Medicine of Bucharest received 26 bodies, of which 21 were identified. Autopsies were expected on Sunday.

The investigators also examined the wounded admitted in hospitals following the incident, to establish which of them could be heard.

The first investigations at the fire site were carried out Saturday by prosecutors, police officers, forensic and explosive experts. George Gaman, director of INSEMEX – the National Institute for Research and Development in Mine Safety and Protection to Explosion based in the mining centre of Petrosani – mentioned the finding of some textile and other materials incinerated totally or in part, and of one used small fire extinguisher.

Interior Minister: 300 to 500 audience in burned up nightclub

Between 300 and 500 people were in the ‘Colectiv’ nightclub in Bucharest that burned up on Friday night, Vice PM and Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea told the Government in its extraordinary sitting on Saturday; their evacuation began at 10.43pm and ended at 00.15am, he mentioned.

“Last night I have coordinated alongside [Ministry of Internal Affairs, MAI] state secretary [Raed] Arafat and the whole MAI leadership the interventions of the ministry’s forces. Fire fighters, doctors and paramedics, policemen and gendarmes mobilized themselves in an manner and intervened within the shortest time to save as many human lives as possible. The first intervention teams arrived on site 11 minutes after the call to 112 [the emergency number] and the Red Plan of intervention was immediately activated,” the minister said.

Following is his account of circumstances: “In the ‘Colectiv’ club on Tabacari Street of Bucharest’s 4th District, a fire occurred during a concert with an audience between 300 and 500 people. The facility where it took place has an area of 425 square meters, at the ground floor of the [former factory] ‘Pionierul’ building. The first emergency call was recorded at 10.32pm and the first fire fighter intervention teams arrived on site at 10.43pm.” The public forces ordered the usual first measures in such circumstances – the evacuation of people from the building, on-site medical assistance, public order actions and road traffic ordering, alerting the hospitals, and the emergency transportation of the injured to hospitals in Bucharest and the surrounding Ilfov County. “Around 00.15am the evacuation of the building was completed, and the fire was put off at 00.43am. During the rescue intervention, 180 people were taken to 12 hospitals in Bucharest. Unfortunately, we are informed that 27 people died following the fire. The victims’ families will be announced when they are identified.”

According to Oprea, orders were issued to provide additional medical means to the hospitals that admitted fire victims.

“Approximately 500 people acted for the immediate response: the Bucharest-Ilfov ISU [Emergency Situations Inspectorate] – that is fire fighters and SMURD [Mobile Emergency Service for Resuscitation and Extrication], 151 fire fighters and 52 intervention means, the ambulance service – 29 ambulances and 87 doctors and nurses, the Bucharest Police – 160 police officers, including 72 of the Traffic Brigade with 57 cars and one motorcycle, the Bucharest Gendarmerie with 60 gendarmes and 11 special vehicles,” he detailed.

According to him, the Interior Ministry’s people were joined by colleagues, doctors and paramedics who reported to hospitals on their own initiative to support the emergency intervention; he also mentioned the many volunteer blood donors.

Health Minister Nicolae Banicioiu highlighted the unprecedented mobilization of the intervention forces and the excellent collaboration between the SMURD ambulance teams and the Emergency Units of hospitals.

“We had everything that was needed for such interventions as early as last night, including blood and plasma. We also had the strategic reserve at the Transfusion Centre in Bucharest. It was used replaced later (…) Also, all the medication and consumables are assured, and all the surgical and medical teams,” he asserted.

The health minister assured that for the time being the hospitals have enough blood, and called the volunteers to save their efforts until next week, when further surgery is expected for some of the 146 wounded admitted in hospitals.

The death toll of the fire currently stands at 27; state secretary Arafat said earlier on Saturday it could increase, as several wounded were in serious condition. Several hospitals reported specific figures on such cases, among the total of 146 of admitted patients.

According to eyewitnesses, the fire has started from on-stage fireworks during the live performance of the rock band Goodbye to Gravity, launching their second album in a free-entrance event. Flames expanded quickly from the foam insulation of pillars to the ceiling, and a stampede ensued as people struggled to leave the crowded premises.

President Iohannis meets fire investigation supervisors

President Klaus Iohannis asked General Prosecutor Tiberiu Nitu, Vice Prime Minister and Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea, and State Secretary Raed Arafat of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, head of the Mobile Emergency Service for Resuscitation and Extrication to carry out an efficient, firm and rapid investigation of the fire in the ‘Colectiv’ club of Bucharest, where 27 people were killed and 184 injured on Friday night.

The three officials briefed the President at the Cotroceni Palace on Saturday about the response to the incident, the first findings, the consequences and the decisions expected to limit the impact.

Iohannis asked to be permanently informed about the condition of the wounded, the Presidential Administration mentioned in a release.

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