Tragedies like the Colectiv fire seem beyond the remit of words. Words are inadequate to describe the pain, loss, horror and senselessness of such a catastrophe. While all our lives are touched by hurt, fear and bereavement, the circumstances of the October 30 nightclub fire are, fortunately, beyond the experience and imagining of most of us.
Thousands of Romanians take to the streets in protest after fire broke out when fireworks lit at a rock concert inside the Colectiv club set non-fireproofed insulation foam ablaze, triggering a stampede towards the single exit and trapping many of the roughly 400-strong audience inside. It is astonishing, and criminal, that a club would allow pyrotechnics inside a venue with flammable materials everywhere and just one exit!
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, said of the protest, commenting on his personal facebook page, “I am impressed with the celebrations* tonight. It is a movement of the street, which comes from the desire of the people you have met the condition and dignity. I understand that it is required, and waiting, rightly, for someone to assume the accountability of politics. The next step should be politicians who cannot ignore this sense of outrage”.
*Translated by Facebook translator and I am sure the word ‘celebration’ is badly translated.
Twitter is trending with the anti government protests as can be seen here https://twitter.com/AlexandruC4/status/661614048593575937
In Bucharest, marchers shouted demands for Prime Minister Victor Ponta and deputy prime minister Gabriel Oprea to resign along with the mayor of the district where Colectiv is located.
“Wake up and do something,” a woman shouted as the march blocked traffic on one of Bucharest’s busiest boulevards. “We want justice.”
Donors queued at blood centres and volunteers took food and drinks to Bucharest hospitals for medical staff and victims’ families.
Outside Colectiv, thousands of people laid a blanket of candles and flowers in remembrance.
Late on Tuesday, a Bucharest court decided to grant prosecutors a 30-day arrest warrant against the three owners of Colectiv, who were taken into custody on Monday on suspicion of manslaughter.
“All I can do is keep my head bowed before judgement,” owner Costin Mincu said on Facebook through his lawyer, so far the only comment from any of the three men. “I regret what happened enormously.”
The government passed additional legislation on Tuesday that would allow Romania’s emergency response authority to immediately shut venues that do not have permits, take adequate safety measures or observe entry limits.
Ignoring calls for his resignation, district mayor Cristian Popescu Piedone said he would build a monument outside Colectiv. He has said that as far as the local authority was concerned, the club had all the necessary paperwork.
After the Bucharest protest started, premier Ponta announced he had fired the head of the consumer protection agency for failed oversight over Colectiv.
Meanwhile, the head of news and the head of programming at Romania’s public television station have resigned after it was hours late covering the tragedy.
The interim head of TVR, Irina Radu, apologised to viewers on Monday saying the tragedy at the Colectiv nightclub had been treated “unprofessionally.”
The channel only began reporting news of the deadly fire at 7am Saturday.
Radu said measures had been taken to “bring Romania closer to the public television Romania needs.”
In honor of those who died and as we will the injured to recover, let’s hope that it’s the positive side of Romania that endures, and that Bucharest can move forward in solidarity and safety.