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Romania nightclub fire death toll rises as protests continue

The death toll following a fire a nightclub in Romania's capital has risen to 44. Anti-government protests continued over the weekend on a smaller scale, despite Prime Minister Victor Ponta's resignation.

The director of Romania's burns hospital in Floreasca, Cristian Nitescu, said on Sunday that most recent deaths were as a result of burns-related injuries. Some of them had been transferred to the Netherlands for treatment.

"The next seven days will be the most difficult with regards to treating the wounded," Health Minister Nicolae Banicioiu said on Saturday.

"We welcome any help, any medical teams coming from abroad," Banicioiu added.

A fire broke out at a club,

the "Collectiv" nightclub in Bucharest, last Friday

after fireworks were let off during a band's performance. The pyrotechnics set fire to flammable sound insulation, triggering a stampede as revelers ran to the sole exit. In addition to the deaths, some 180 people were injured - many with severe burns.

Romanian authorities have since detained the nightclub's three bosses on manslaughter charges. The trio had no authorization to hold either concerts or pyrotechnic shows.

Mass protests

The blaze sparked

mass anti-government protests in Romania,

with many demonstrators saying that the sub-standard safety measures at the club reflect the country's wider corruption concerns.

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta - who is

currently on trial facing corruption charges

- stood down with his cabinet on Wednesday.

Christian Popescu Piedone, the district mayor of Bucharest's Sector 4 also resigned, saying he was "morally guilty" for the disaster.

ksb/rc (AFP, AP)

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