Update- Unprecedented tragedy: Nightclub fire kills 32, injures 180 during Bucharest concert

Updates at the end of the story, death toll reached 32-. Adds names of 23 casualties.

A fire in the Colectiv nightclub in Romanian capital Bucharest killed at least 27 and left over 180 injured during a rock concert on Friday evening (October 30). The country declared Code Red and authorities are trying to accommodate all the injured in 12 hospitals across Bucharest. Doctors have been called to duty to face the high number of injured. Many doctors even went to help other hospitals who were dealing with a higher number of patients, many of whom were severely burned.

Many of the victims have not yet been identified as they were not carrying IDs. The authorities created seven help lines where people can inquire about their relatives and check whether they are among the dead: 021/2069291, 021/3130605, 021/2069283, 021/2648704, 021/2648525, 021/2069375 and 021/3122547. Romanian media published pictures of handwritten lists of people taken to each of the hospitals.

The Health Ministry has asked everyone to donate blood in what it described as an ‘unprecedented tragedy and emergency intervention.’ Blood donation is possible starting Saturday night (October 31), at the Bucharest Transfusion Center and at the University Hospital.

The Colectiv club was a venue for many concerts, and among the most popular nightclubs in Bucharest.  The band Goodbye to Gravity was playing in the club at the launch of their newest album. There was free entry to the party starting 20:30, and there were about 250 people in the club when the fire started.

Later edit: Local newswires say about 400 were attending the concert.  Colectiv is located in the basement of Pionierul, a former Communist factory on Tabacari street, close to downtown Bucharest.

The first call to the emergency number 112 was recorded after 22:30. While the authorities still investigate the cause of the accident, and whether the club owners had done everything to prevent, then put out a fire, preliminary reports by newswire Mediafax say the fire started because of the band’s on-stage fireworks. The fire quickly spread to the ceiling, covered with antiphonal material. Pieces of the ceiling fell on the clubbers, and everyone rushed to the only door that could be opened. A second door was opened later, but by then, many people had already been burnt or in respiratory distress. The first ambulance came 15 minutes after the fire started.

Update: The Romanian Government will meet on Saturday at noon (October 31) to decide to hold three days of national mourning.

During the night, many Bucharesters already queued to donate blood. Romanians rallied on Facebook to donate. Social media was also filled with mourning messages, under the hashtag #colectiv. Even the official Emergency Situations Department used this hashtag in its Facebook updates throughout the night. Many also took to Facebook to find out whether their friends or family members who were or might have been in Colectiv were safe and sound.

Update: The Bucharest Emergency Unit ISU had not received any request to hold the pyrotechnics show inside the club, as it would have been required by law.

Update: More than half of the victims were still unidentified on Saturday morning.    Meanwhile, Romanians have been calling for more hospitals as hospital beds were scarce in Bucharest and many of the injured had to be moved from one hospital to another. “Hospital, not churches” was one of the slogans  on Facebook slogan after this tragedy.

Update: about 40 of the injured were still in a critical condition on Saturday morning.

By law, the club should have had 6 exits for the about 500 people who were at the event, as well as smoke detector sensors, and sprinkles and fire extinguishers, according to Romanian media.

Update: it took ambulances and firefighters around 10 minutes to reach the site, according to authorities. Over 50 ambulances and 80 doctors arrived at the scene. Access to the club was however difficult, as cars were parked on the narrow street, and the Police has to tow them and make room for firefighters.

update: Four foreigners were among those injured in the fire. A young Italian woman was injured, she sustained burns on 45% of her body. Two Spanish citizens were also injured, but are in a better situation. A German was also among the injured. The first three were taken to Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) hospital, while the German, to the University Hospital.

update November 1- Two more people died after the nightclub fire, taking the death toll to 29, according to Romanian officials. They had been admitted to two hospitals in Bucharest, but died because of the severe injuries.

The authorities managed to identify all the victims, and on Sunday coroners started the autopsies. Meanwhile, the investigation is ongoing into the cause and who’s to blame for the fire.

Update: The Coroner’s Office published the names of 23 of the victims –  Ruşitaru Alexandru, Hamed Ştefan, Ioniţă Cătălina, Simion Alexandru, Epure Anda Ioana, Vulcu Maria, Florea Valentina, Opriţă Carmen Irina, Matei Gabriel, Palada Radu, Nelu Tilie, Ţelea Vlad, Enache Diana, Baldovin Nicoleta, Tripa Ioan, Georgescu Paul Alexandru, Rugină Adrian, Ignat Constantin, Laurenţiu Varlam, Alexandru Mihai, Ion Maria, Fieraru Valentin and Vieru Mihaela.

About 90 people of those 140 still in hospital are in critical condition, according to the Health Ministry.

Update November 1, 6 PM: Another person has died, taking the death toll to 30. Authorities are pessimistic about many of the injured, and believe the death toll may even double in the following days.

A silent walk was organized downtown Bucharest on Sunday afternoon, November 1, in memory of those who died, and in support of those struggling for their lives in hospitals. Some 7,000 thousands people attended. Meanwhile, people also lit candles and brought flowers in front of the club, including foreign ambassadors and politicians.

Update November 2 – The death toll has reached 32.

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(photo source: Colectiv on Facebook)

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