The Romanian president appealed for protesters’ support on Sunday in reforming the country, as the death toll rose to 45 from a nightclub fire that brought down the government.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis was met with shouted slogans and whistles from demonstrators seeking “profound change” as he paid a visit to the capital’s University Square, the focal point of nearly a week of protests.
“It is only together that we can make this change, neither you alone, nor I alone can do it,” Iohannis told the several hundred-strong crowd on the sixth consecutive night of demonstrations.
Thousands of Romanians have taken to the streets in mass anti-government protests since the deadly blaze on Oct. 30 at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, which also left scores injured.
Many viewed compromised safety standards at the club as emblematic of a wider problem with rampant corruption in one of the EU’s poorest nations.
Former Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta, who had been under pressure for weeks as he goes on trial on corruption charges, resigned on Wednesday, saying it was right for top officials to take responsibility for the tragedy.
Among the latest victims of the fire to succumb to their injuries on Sunday was the drummer of a local hard rock group, who had been on stage when the inferno broke out and who was about to be transferred to a Swiss hospital for treatment.
The plane carrying the musician turned back when he took a turn for the worst shortly after take-off.
The group’s two guitarists died the day after the blaze while two others are still in a serious condition in hospital.
Three other people — two young Romanians and a Turkish tourist — also died earlier on Sunday.
“The next seven days will be the most difficult with regards to treating the wounded,” Romanian Health Minister Nicolae Banicioiu said on Saturday.
“We welcome any help, any medical teams coming from abroad,” Banicioiu said.
With the death toll mounting steadily in recent days, Romanian media criticized authorities for failing to transfer some of the wounded to hospitals abroad in time.
“Why has Romania not asked for international help before?” Gandul daily wrote, adding that the country’s hospitals were struggling to treat more than 140 people wounded in the fire.
On Saturday, 18 people were transferred abroad — eight to Belgium, eight to the Netherlands and two to Austria. Two more were flown to the UK and Hungary on Sunday, the defense ministry said.
Doctors say about 100 injured remain hospitalized, among them 44 in critical condition.
The fire broke out when fireworks let off during a rock band’s performance triggered a blaze and a stampede as panicked revelers tried to flee.
Initial investigations suggest numerous breaches of the safety rules at the club, including a lack of emergency exits and the fact that flammable materials were used for sound insulation.
The club’s three bosses, detained since Tuesday on manslaughter charges, did not have the authorization to host concerts, let alone pyrotechnic shows.
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of