Romanian prosecutors have made public the final results of their investigation into the fire at Colectiv nightclub last autumn.
What was supposed to be a relaxing Friday night
out with friends in a Bucharest nightclub turned, in a matter of seconds, into
an inferno for hundreds of young people who were unlucky to be in the wrong
place at the wrong time. Artists, photographers, journalists, architects, local
and foreign students, corporate employees and engineers had come to Colectiv on
October 30th for the launch of a new album by the rock band Goodbye
to Gravity. 64 of them died and more than 100 were wounded in the tragedy that
plunged Romania into mourning and wide-scale street protests, which eventually
led to the resignation of the Social-Democratic Prime Minister Victor Ponta.
Half a year since the tragedy, the General
Prosecutor's office has published the results of the investigation into the
events, concluding the disaster's main cause was a complete disregard to fire
safety regulations and practices. According to prosecutors, the fire, which
burned with temperatures of 900 degrees centigrade, reached to the ceiling in
33 seconds, while the people inside desperately tried to open the club's second
door for minutes.
A survivor said the concert opened with
fireworks display that shot sparks to the club's ceiling. One of the club's
pillars was immediately engulfed by flames, which went up to the ceiling right
away. The investigation has also revealed that fire extinguishers were well
beyond their expiry date and that a man tried to put out the fire with beer.
Several people, including the club's owners,
will face trial. The three owners are facing several charges including
criminally negligent manslaughter over failure to observe fire prevention and
safety regulations. Their statements on the sound-absorbing materials used in
refurbishing the club do not coincide with those of the builders. According to
representatives of the company that carried out the refurbishing works, the
owners chose cheap non-fireproof materials, whereas the owners said they had
been given assurances that only fireproof materials were used in the process.
The owners have also been accused of having sold more tickets than they were
supposed to and of having allowed a firework show in the absence of safety
measures. The owner of the fireworks company will also be brought before the
magistrates for the purchase of pyrotechnic materials that didn't have
instructions in Romanian and because the staff that handled the fireworks
lacked proper qualifications.