BUCHAREST — Prosecutors opened an inquiry Sunday into two explosions at an unlicensed liquefied petroleum gas filling station that left two people dead and 56 people injured north of Romania’s capital Bucharest at the weekend.
Most of the injured were firefighters who rushed to the station in the Crevedia commune to extinguish the blaze from the first explosion before the second occurred late Saturday.
“The fire started while gas was transferred from one tanker to another. A source of fire appeared under one of the tankers,” general prosecutor Alex Florenta told a press conference on Sunday.
“Speculations include that a cigarette was carelessly thrown,” he added.
The two people who died were a couple, emergency department head Raed Arafat told reporters.
The man suffered a heart attack, while the woman died after sustaining severe burns, he added.
Among the injured — some with severe burns — were 39 firefighters, two police officers and two gendarmes, according to Arafat.
“Overnight we transferred two firefighters and two civilians abroad (for treatment) and more will follow,” he said in a statement.
The four were taken to Italy or Belgium, according to the defence ministry.
Romania has requested assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to treat 18 burn patients, European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Austria, Germany and Norway offered help, Lenarcic said.
The company owning the gas station lost its permit to function in July 2020 after a verification discovered several irregularities, Florenta said.
After being closed, the owners declared the gas station yard as a parking lot for the company’s tankers, but its employees “continued to make several operations of gas transfer from one tank to another or to other devices,” he added.
Four Nepalese were working there, even though on paper they were hired at another one of the company’s outlets.
The fire forced the evacuation of people within a 700-metreradius.
“I’m profoundly saddened that the explosions in Crevedia resulted in victims,” President Klaus Iohannis wrote on Facebook, calling it a “tragedy”.
Anger has flared repeatedly in the EU member state over a lack of official oversight to ensure compliance with safety regulations.
In 2015, a blaze ripped through a Bucharest nightclub after fireworks were let off, killing 64 people. — AFP