Romania PM resigns after nightclub fire

Protesters took to the streets of Bucharest and other cities demanding government resignations

Protesters took to the streets of Bucharest and other cities demanding government resignations

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta has resigned after some 20,000 people took to the streets to protest over a nightclub fire that killed 32 people.

Friday night’s blaze in Bucharest started when a band performing at the club set off fireworks inside.

Demonstrators called for Mr Ponta to step down, complaining of government corruption and poor safety supervision.

“I’m handing in my mandate, I’m resigning, and implicitly my government too,” Mr Ponta said in a statement.

“I hope the government’s resignation will satisfy the people who came out in the streets,” he added.

In September, Mr Ponta became the first sitting Romanian prime minister to go on trial charged with corruption. He faces allegations of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.

He denies the charges and has accused prosecutors of being “totally unprofessional”. –BBC

He was one of three people urged by the protesters to resign in the wake of the fire. They also singled out the mayor of the Bucharest district, where the nightclub fire occurred, and the country’s interior minister.

The protesters chanted “shame on you” and “assassins”, and carried banners reading “corruption kills”.

More than 100 people are still in hospital and some of them in a critical condition, after suffering burns and poisoning in the fire. Doctors fear the toll could rise.

A young woman who lost two friends in the blaze was clearly angry.

“We the young are the future. That is what we were told, that is how we were educated. And when something very serious like that happens and young people die, we see it as an attack against us,” she said.

“Things must change and change must come from those who govern us.”

The fire at Colectiv on Friday broke out as some 400 people gathered for a free rock concert by the band Goodbye to Gravity. Survivors said the fireworks set off inside the club ignited foam decor.

The club’s single exit was overwhelmed in the panic that followed. More than 180 people were injured.

–BBC

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