At least 27 people died and 180 were injured in Bucharest on Friday after an explosion sparked a fire in a nightclub in the Romanian capital. Government officials confirmed the death toll, which could still rise. More than 400 people were in the Colectiv club for an album release for the metal band 'Goodbye to Gravity,' according to the band's social media pages.
A witness told Reuters that fireworks inside the club led to an explosion, with the subsequent fire climbing up a pillar and into the club's ceiling. Members of the emergency services were shown on TV attempting to resuscitate young people that had been dragged out of the club.
"There was a stampede of people running out of the club," a second witness told Reuters. The government announced an investigation into the incident had already been launched. Romanian President Klaus Lohannis said he was "shocked" by the news. Writing on his Facebook page, he said: "It is a very sad moment for all of us, for our nation and for me personally."
The Associated Press reported that witnesses told Antena 3 TV that between 300 to 400 mostly young people had been at the club, housed in a former factory, when a pyrotechnical show went awry. They said there was only one exit.
Delia Tugui, teacher at the American International School of Bucharest who was at the concert with her husband and son, said club-goers were taken by surprise at how fast the fire grew and panicked as it spread.
"The lead singer made a quick joke: 'This wasn't part of the program.' The next second, he realized it wasn't a joke and asked for a fire extinguisher," she wrote on her Facebook page. "In 30 seconds...the fire spread all over the ceiling.
"People rushed to the entrance but it was too narrow, and people panicked. Behind me people stampeded, climbing over each other, to try and get out."
The country's government announced three days of mourning for the victims on Saturday.