27 dead, 180 injured in firework blaze at nightclub
An explosion and the ensuing blaze on a stage at a nightclub in the Romanian capital Bucharest last night left 27 people dead and 180 hospitalised with injuries, the country's interior minister said.
Minister Gabriel Oprea said the explosion occurred at Colectiv club in downtown Bucharest, a city of 3 million people.
Witnesses told Antena 3 TV that there were between 300 and 400 people at the club where the metal band Goodbye to Gravity was performing when a "pyrotechnical show" went awry.
The station reported that people panicked and rushed for the exit.
The Digi 24 television station quoted witnesses who said the explosion came after a spark on stage ignited some polystyrene decor.
Victor Ionescu, who was at the club with his girlfriend, told Antena 3 TV by telephone that there were huge flames after the explosion.
"People were fainting, they were fainting from the smoke. It was total chaos, people were trampling on each other," he said.
"It was a tragedy that could have been avoided if there had been more organisation from the emergency services."
One young clubber filmed by Antena 3 said that flames engulfed patrons, burning their skin and hair.
According to the Bucharest-based metal band's Facebook page, lead singer Andrei Gault was the 2008 winner of "Megastar," a Romanian show similar to "American Idol."
The band has five members and has released two albums since it formed in 2011.
The ministry said that 60 ambulances and fire engines had been sent to the scene and a mobile hospital had been set up outside the nightclub to treat the wounded.
Around 50 of the most badly injured were removed to the Floreasca emergency hospital, the ministry said.
Health Minister Nicolae Banicoiu appealed to members of the public in Bucharest to donate blood.