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At least 27 killed, nearly 200 injured in Romania nightclub explosion

By Doug G. Ware
At least 27 killed, nearly 200 injured in Romania nightclub explosion
More than two dozen people were killed Friday when a fire erupted at a Romanian nightclub in downtown Bucharest, authorities said. Witnesses said it appeared the fire was sparked by a pyrotechnics display inside the club while a rock band performed on stage. File Photo by Sandyman / Shutterstock

BUCHAREST, Romania, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Nearly 30 people were killed and many others were injured Friday night when an explosion abruptly rocked a nightclub in Romania's capital, authorities said.

The blast hit the Colectiv club in downtown Bucharest, where hundreds of people had gathered to watch the rock band Goodbye to Gravity perform.

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According to witnesses, the fiery explosion occurred while the band was on stage and was in the middle of a pyrotechnics display that may have sparked the flames. An explosion followed a few seconds after the fire erupted, the witnesses said.

A member of the band, Lemi Black, said he saw two foam pillars catch fire -- followed quickly by a stampede for the door.

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"They then set fire to wood inside the building, which burned everything really quickly," Black said. "It was made worse by the fact that the only way out was a relatively small door."

"People were fainting, they were fainting from the smoke. It was total chaos, people were trampling on each other," witness Victor Ionescu told Romanian TV station Antena 3.

There were only two exits at the club, and witnesses said panicked club goers had to break down one of the doors when it wouldn't open.

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As many as 400 people were inside the club when the fire occurred, and many were unaccounted for as fire officials worked at the scene.

Romanian Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea said at least 27 people were killed and 180 were injured. Officials reportedly said the death toll could go as high as 40.

"It is a very sad day for all of us, for our nation and for me personally," Romanian President Klaus Iohannis wrote on his Facebook page late Friday.

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Friday's fire in Bucharest was reminiscent of a deadly 2003 nightclub fire in Rhode Island, which was also ignited by an out-of-control pyrotechnics display. One hundred people died and 230 were injured in that fire.

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