Romanians have marked four years since the deadly fire at the Colectiv nightclub that killed 64 people, with tears, despair and silence.
Outgoing Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said the day would remain “in our memories as one of the saddest days” when the destiny of dozens of young lives was cut short.
Others did not speak. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis laid a wreath of white roses at a shrine outside the Colectiv club. Israel’s Ambassador to Romania David Saranga also laid a wreath, his last official act of the day, before joining a worldwide strike of Israeli diplomats over expense claims.
The broke out at the nightclub on Oct. 30 during a concert by rock band Goodbye to Gravity after a spark from pyrotechnics show ignited flammable acoustic foam. Hundreds of revellers were in the club, and 27 died immediately from burns or smoke inhalation.
Some died or were injured because they couldn’t escape as one exit door was locked. Others died in the following weeks from their burns or respiratory problems caused by the smoke.
The tragedy led to massive street protests over the fire and corruption which people said had led to lax safety standards. The protests saw the collapse of Premier Victor Ponta and his government on Nov. 4.
Last week unseen footage was leaked to the Romanian media which showed chaotic scenes as firefighters arrive on the scene, stirring up painful memories as the material had apparently been kept hidden from authorities and prosecutors investigating the case.
Addressing that, Dancila said: “We need to open our eyes and recognize when things don’t work and to fix them together, state institutions and authorities, politicians, civil society, to intervene as quickly as we can when there are events that our security.”
But the chairman of the Colectiv Association, Eugen Iancu, whose 22-year-old son escaped from the fire only to die three weeks later from a hospital infection, said that state institutions are filled „almost the same characters who proved that in the 30 years since Communism they have changed absolutely nothing,” and that justice is in no hurry to find the culprits for the deadly Colectiv Club fire.
“The intervention that night was a catastrophe. It was a disgrace, a moment when our leaders wanted to increase their image; they never were interested in the life of the wounded.”
One of the survivors, Alexandra Furnea, who’s just had her sixth needling operation used to treat burns (it aims to replace scar collagen with normal lattice patterned collagen) in Germany, posted a first-person account of her struggles on Facebook, ending.
“October 30th wasn’t just a night, but it continued afterwards, on the asphalt in front of the club where they trampled on hands stretched out for help, in the hospitals where they let filth hide in our flesh, in the courtrooms where they put a hand over the mouth of truth…. Four years later, the opportunity for change has been wasted… and we, all of us, continue to burn.”