Hundreds of young people were packed into a music club in central Bucharest, Romania, jamming to the head-pounding heavy metal music filling their ears.
But a fire that may have been sparked by pyrotechnics late on Friday quickly erupted with dark,
blinding smoke — killing at least 27 people and injuring more than 160 others, authorities said.
It was almost Halloween at Colectiv, a trendy club built in the basement of a communist-era factory.
The band, Goodbye to Gravity, was celebrating a new album with a free concert.
The blaze left the 300 or 400 people packed inside scrambling toward the lone exit in one of Romania’s
deadliest fires in recent memory.
Eyewitnesses said many in the crowd believed the first moments of the fire were part of the show.
The government declared three days of morning, and President Klaus Iohannis visited the hospital
where many of the injured were taken.
The president also left flowers outside the club, according to Romanian TV’s Antena 3.
“I wanted to see the scene of the tragedy,” the station quoted him as saying. “It’s incredible. This location is completely unfit. … It is unimaginable that this location hosted so many people at the concert.
And it’s unimaginable that this tragedy happened so quickly because simple rules were ignored.”
Dr. Raed Arafat, head of the country’s department of emergency situations, said that fire officials
had not issued any permits for a gathering of that size or for the use of fireworks.
Arafat said many victims suffered smoke inhalation and some had severe burns up to 80% of their
Arafat said hospitals were overwhelmed by the number of victims, and equipment from
nonemergency hospitals had to be transferred to facilities treating the injured.
Many of the injured were in critical condition at 12 hospitals, authorities said.
And as many as 17 of the dead had still not been identified because of the severity of their burns.
Authorities said the cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.
A prosecutor and fire specialists will investigate the scene and determine how the fire started, said
Monica Dajbog, a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry.
Paul Angelescu, a reporter with ProTV, said the mayor told him the club had all the necessary permits to operate as a club.
Iohannis said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the tragedy.
“It is a very sad moment for all of us, for our nation and for me personally,” he said in a post to his
The fire appears to be the deadliest nightclub blaze since a 2013 fire at a nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, killed more than 230 people.