A blaze at a nightclub in the Romanian capital left at least 27 people dead and more than 180 people injured, according to the authorities. A metal band's pyrotechnical show has been blamed for sparking the deadly fire.
The incident began when a heavy metal band's pyrotechnical show went awry at Colectiv nightclub, setting fire to the roof and a column in the Soviet-era building.
At least 27 people, many of them teenagers, were killed, while more than 180 people were injured.
"People disappeared; they disappeared because of the smoke. It was total chaos. People were trampled," a witness told local TV station Antena 3.
The club was filled with between 300 to 400 people when the fire broke out.
'Tragedy without precedent'
"It is a tragedy without precedent, and it is an intervention without precedent," said Deputy Interior Minister Raed Arafat.
"The situation is slowly stabilizing…we have many people with burns, intoxicated with smoke and people squashed," Arafat noted, adding that the authorities were facing challenges identifying the victims, as many were not carrying identification.
Romania's emergency department said that 162 people were transported to hospitals throughout Bucharest. However, hospital sources said the death toll could rise, since at least 25 people are in critical condition.
A national tragedy
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said he was "shocked" by the incident.
"I am shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic event that occurred tonight downtown. It is a very sad moment for all of us, for our nation and for me personally," Iohannis said.
"I want to assure you of all support from rescuing forces and ask you to trust they put all efforts to limit the impact of this catastrophe," the Romanian president added.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea said that authorities launched an investigation to determine the cause of the fire.
This is not the first time pyrotechnics have caused a deadly fire at a nightclub.
In 2013, at least 232 people were killed when a fire broke out at a Brazilian nightclub due to a rock band's pyrotechnical show.
ls/bw (AP, AFP, Reuters)