Romanians gather to mark 3 years since deadly nightclub fire

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — More than 1,000 people, some grieving and others protesting, marched in Romania’s capital Tuesday to mark the third anniversary of a nightclub fire that broke out during a rock band’s pyrotechnics display and caused 64 deaths.

As evening fell, hundreds of mourners gathered outside the former site of the Colectiv nightclub clutching flowers, candles and searing memories of the Oct. 30, 2015 blaze, which left some 190 people injured.

Marius Taufik, 38, said he wanted to pay respects to the victims and to “protest institutionalized graft” that he said led to safety standards not being observed and in turn, the fire.

Family and friends of those who died denounced the government’s recent finding that 280 of Romania’s estimated 1,200 nightclubs don’t have required fire safety permits.

“Corruption is in the fiber of these institutions,” Taufik said as others at the vigil wept or stood in silence.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis laid a wreath at the same spot earlier in the day, when religious services were held in Bucharest and elsewhere to remember the mostly young victims.

The families of the people who died are angry that the ongoing trial of the club’s three owners has stalled and not resulted in any convictions.

Many also expressed anger over what they said were the unhygienic conditions in hospitals that allegedly contributed to some of the deaths.

Premier Viorica Dancila initially declined to answer a reporter who asked if she had a message for people affected by the fire. Dancila later issued a statement saying she held the young victims in her thoughts.

She said the tragedy “would make us … see things honestly when they don’t work as they should, and how we can make things right.”

The government that was in power three years ago resigned within days of the fire after protesters asserted that official corruption had led to lax safety standards.

About half of the fatalities occurred on the night of the fire, with victims succumbing to burns and toxic gases.

Others died from their injuries and complications in the following days and weeks. Some patients were sent abroad, and at least three died after they’d left Romania.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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