Romania PM Ponta resigns

BUCHAREST - Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta has resigned, a day after some 20,000 people took to the streets to protest against a nightclub fire that left 32 people dead.

Friday night's blaze in Bucharest started when a band performing at the club set off fireworks.

Demonstrators called for Mr Ponta to step down, complaining of government corruption and poor safety supervision.

Mr Ponta is already facing trial on corruption charges.

In September, he became the first sitting Romanian prime minister to go on trial over allegations of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.

He has denied the charges, accusing prosecutors of being "totally unprofessional".

Mr Ponta said on Wednesday that he and and his government were standing down.

"I hope the government's resignation will satisfy the people who came out in the streets," he said on Romanian TV.

Friday's fire broke out at the Colectiv nightclub as some 400 people gathered for a free rock concert by the band Goodbye to Gravity.

Survivors said the fireworks caused the ceiling and a pillar to catch fire.

Three owners of the club have been arrested amid allegations that it was overcrowded, did not have enough emergency exits and may not have been authorised to hold such concerts.

Concerns that safety was compromised because of corruption, a long-standing issue in Romania, has fuelled public anger, the BBC's Nick Thorpe reports.

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