November 1, 2015 / 2:07 PM / in 2 years

Romanian club fire death toll rises to 29, thousands march

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Two young Romanian women died of severe burns in hospital on Sunday after having been rescued from the fire at a Bucharest nightclub on Friday, doctors said, raising the death toll to 29.

A woman lights a candle outside a nightclub, where a fire broke out on Friday, in Bucharest, Romania October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea

Thousands of people marched silently with flowers through Bucharest on Sunday to commemorate the victims and U.S. ambassador Hans Klemm visited the Colectiv nightclub site, meeting people who had lit candles to express solidarity with the grieving families.

“Unfortunately, two female victims (a 25- and a 31-year-old) died today. The state of those hospitalized and labeled critical remains critical,” deputy Interior Minister Raed Arafat said.

The government declared three days of national mourning on Saturday, following the fire, which also left 184 injured during a rock concert that featured the use of fireworks indoors.

Up to 500 people, mostly young adults, stampeded for the only available exit as the club in the basement of a Communist-era sports shoe factory filled with smoke.

On Sunday, the authorities said all the dead had been identified and that 146 people remained in hospital, with 80-90 of them “in severe and critical state,” according to the health ministry.

Officials and witnesses said fireworks had been used inside the club, while the venue’s Facebook page advertised pyrotechnic effects at the show.

A criminal investigation is under way at the General Prosecutor’s office, including into suspected murder.

Arafat said no fire permit had been requested by the club or granted to it by the Bucharest fire department. Displays using fire and fireworks in Romania require special authorization if used in a public indoor place.

A pillar covered with foam panels and the club’s ceiling went up in flames, followed by an explosion and thick smoke, witnesses said.

Some of the deadliest nightclub disasters in the world have been caused by fireworks. In 2013, in the Brazilian college town of Santa Maria, a musician lit an outdoor flare inside the Kiss nightclub, starting a fire that killed at least 241 people.

Editing by Andrew Bolton

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