Four years after the worst fire in Romania’s recent history, nobody has gone on trial and questions remain about how it erupted and the way rescue officials reacted in the aftermath of the deflagration which killed 64.
A 20-minute video appeared in the Romanian media Thursday which shows chaotic scenes as firefighters arrive on the scene, raising even more questions as the material has apparently been kept hidden from authorities and prosecutors investigating the case.
The daily Libertatea newspaper which published the video said it received the footage from a junior officer at the communications department of Emergency Situations Inspectorate (ISU), who requested anonymity.
Normally, in such cases, the material would have been made available to investigators. However, it appears only a handful of senior officers viewed the images and who then apparently tried to cover it up, as it showed chaotic scenes of victims lying on the ground with civilians helping officers carry the wounded.
In some cases, it is unclear whether a person is alive or dead as nobody appears to be giving first aid or checking the pulse of the injured or dead. Victims are carried by people, or they are either put on stretchers or on wooden pallets. Bodies are laid on wooden pallets and covered with first aid blankets.
The video is in contrast with the official line presented by the head of the Emergency Situations Department, Raed Arafat on the night of the tragedy, the officer told Libertatea.ro.
The fire broke out at the Colectiv nightclub on Oct. 30, 2015 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 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.
The new government auditors made a report on the way emergency services handled the situation which concluded that the rescue efforts were badly coordinated. The auditors didn’t see the video either. Arafat harshly criticized the report at that time and asked for it to be rewritten, Libertatea reported.