January 21, 2017 / 9:31 AM / 7 months ago

Romanian nightclub fire sends dozens to hospitals

Lady shoes lay abandoned on the snow following the evacuation of a club after a fire broke out in Bucharest, Romania, January 21, 2017. Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea/via REUTERS

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - A fire broke out in a nightclub in the Romanian capital Bucharest early on Saturday morning, resulting in more than 40 people being taken to hospital.

No deaths were reported. Doctors said one person was in serious condition, while most of the victims suffered from smoke inhalation and hypothermia. Some had bone fractures, doctors said, indicating they had panicked and jumped from an upper floor terrace.

The cause of the fire, which broke out at around 3.30 a.m. and burned the Bamboo club to the ground, was still unknown. Prosecutors have opened an investigation.

The unit for emergency situations (ISU) said the club lacked a fire safety permit and that it had been fined several times since 2015. Officials had given club owners a deadline of a few months to obtain the required permit.

Bamboo previously burnt down in 2005.

The fire comes a year and a half after one of the European Union state’s worst disasters in decades, when a fire at nightclub Colectiv killed 64 people and injured more than 100.

That fire occurred when fireworks used during a concert ignited non-fireproofed insulation foam, triggering a stampede towards the single-door exit and trapping many inside. The club was filled beyond capacity and lacked emergency exits.

City officials gave the club an operating license and safety inspectors allowed it to run despite knowing it did not have a fire safety permit.

The fire triggered some of Romania's biggest protests in years against failed oversight, lack of accountability and a politicized public administration, but many remain pessimistic about any real chance of reform.

"Fortunately, no lives were lost in the Bucharest club fire," President Klaus Iohannis said on his Facebook account on Saturday.

"However, we passed by another significant tragedy. Rules and laws were apparently broken again. Until we understand once and for all that the law is for everyone, society will always be in danger."

Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Toby Chopra

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