Romanian PM to resign over nightclub tragedy

Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta is resigning in response to protests demanding he step down after a nightclub fire resulted in 32 deaths last week.

The prime minister released his statement early Wednesday. Thousands of protesters marched through central Bucharest Tuesday, alleging several senior officials allowed themselves to be bribed in exchange for permits to put on shows in crowded and unsafe clubs.

Thirty-two young concert-goers died Friday night and 200 others were badly injured, after fireworks set off during a show at the Colectiv nightclub ignited the ceiling and caused a stampede of some 400 people toward the only exit.

Waving banners reading “Corruption Kills,” the protesters demanded the resignations of Prime Minister Ponta, deputy Gabriel Oprea, and the mayor of the Bucharest district, where the club was located.

Romanian prosecutors have ordered the three nightclub owners held for questioning.

Dozens of doctors are treating the injured, saying they are heartbroken to see so many young people whose lives have been changed forever.

While thousands marched in Bucharest Tuesday, the country honored two men that friends say were the heroes of Friday’s tragedy.

President Klaus Iohannis posthumously decorated photographer Claudiu Petre and drummer Adrian Rugina. Both died while running into the burning nightclub to save others.

Iohannis said both will be remembered for “their courage and altruism and for saving lives at the cost of supreme sacrifice.