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Romanian PM resigns after mass protest over Bucharest club fire

By | Published on Wednesday 4 November 2015

Goodbye To Gravity at Colectiv Club

The Prime Minister of Romania has resigned after more than 20,000 people took to the streets yesterday in protest over the nightclub fire in the capital of Bucharest at the weekend.

As previously reported, a fire began at the city’s Colectiv Club on Friday night during a gig by local metal band Goodbye To Gravity. It is thought that pyrotechnics set light to d├ęcor, which in turn caused the ceiling to catch fire. It seems likely that flammable materials had been used to soundproof the venue. The death toll rose to 32 yesterday with dozens more still in a critical condition in hospital.

As the three owners of the club were arrested on Monday, the operators of three other club venues in Romania admitted they too had not followed safety rules, putting lives at risk. Following solemn gatherings in Bucharest at the weekend in memory of those who died, people began protesting on Monday, accusing corrupt authorities of accepting bribes to allow unsafe venues to operate, rather than properly enforcing safety rules.

Many protestors specifically called for Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who is already facing a trial on corruption charges, to resign. Despite him denying the previous charges, this morning he confirmed he was “handing in my mandate, I’m resigning, and implicitly my government too”. According to the BBC, he added: “I hope the government’s resignation will satisfy the people who came out in the streets”.

Although the collapse of Ponta’s premiership is ultimately the conclusion of a wider story of corruption claims and political infighting, the timing shows the impact this weekend’s tragedy at the Colectiv Club has had in the Romanian capital and beyond.