Bucharest nightclub blaze – has enough been done to prevent another tragedy?

Bucharest nightclub blaze – has enough been done to prevent another tragedy?
By Chris Harris
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Romania has not done enough to prevent another deadly nightclub fire, experts say, as the country marks one year since the tragedy.

Sixty-four people died after flames tore through Colectiv club in Bucharest on October 30, 2015.

Protesters took to the streets of Bucharest days later and linked the fire to corruption, prompting prime minister Victor Ponta to resign.

There were claims from those protesting that safety at the nightclub had been compromised because of corruption – the venue had allegedly been awarded a licence to operate despite not having a fire safety certificate.

Victor Alistar, head of Transparency International in Romania, said the post-Ponta government had introduced measures to tighten safety at public events, as well as reducing bureaucracy.

“The tragedy itself was a huge vehicle for people understanding what can produce maladministration,” he told Euronews. “In the last year I don’t see so much progress, with the exception of the things I mentioned: stronger rules and less bureaucracy.

“The risk is still there for another tragedy to happen and in Romania there’s a huge discussion about the capacity of the healthcare system to deal with such a big tragedy.”

Romania’s health ministry said in the aftermath of the fire that 21 victims were being treated at hospitals across Europe and in Israel.

Valentina-Andreea Dimulescu, a public policy researcher at the Anticorrp project, told Euronews surviving victims of the fire, who’ve been speaking in the last few weeks, were unconvinced over whether enough has been done to prevent a similar tragedy happening again.

“The victims said some changes had been made here and there because of the backlash that occurred after the fire but that people still smoke inside clubs, despite an anti-smoking law, and clubs still exist in basements, and from this point of view we were lucky the Colectiv club was not in a basement because if people had had to have climbed up from a ladder we would have had more casualties.

“So, from this point of view, there were changes made right afterwards but in the long run they [the survivors] don’t see any major changes either from a law or personal behaviour perspective.”

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