By Daniel Stroe – Bucharest
The Romanian minister of Interior, Radu Stroe, has resigned today amid public and political pressure sparked by a belated intervention of the country’s emergency services following a plane crash on Monday which resulted in two casualties, prompting a wave of outrage in the media and the public.
“I have decided to submit the honor resignation in order to protect the honor of the firemen of IGSU (the country’s emergency department)” Stroe said, one day after IGSU’s commander also reigned. “I apologize to all those whom I gave the impression I am a relaxed man (…) by making wrong statements” he added.
Stroe outraged the public when saying that the only thing he reproaches himself is that the plane crash occurred during his office. Stroe’s comments have also irritated his party leader, Crin Antonescu, and party sources revealed the liberals were looking into withdrawing the political support for Stroe to avoid electoral harm.
On Monday, around noon, a plane carrying two pilots, four doctors and a medical student takes off from Bucharest heading north-west towards Oradea where they were to receive a series of organs for transplants. A few hours later the plane crashed in the Western Carpathians, apparently due to thick fog and ice accumulated on the wings. The cause of the crash is still subject to thorough investigation.
The state emergency teams needed six hours to locate the crashed plane even if one of the survivors called the unique emergency number 112 and disclosed the GPS coordinates as indicated by his smart phone. The first to reach the crash site were villagers from a village in the mountains who gave the wounded the first help and then the members of an off-road club. In the meantime, the rescue teams were sent to wrong locations. The pilot and a 23 years old medical student had already died because of the wounds and hypothermia when they got to the site.
The crash sparked a heated debate in the country and left many wondering why a NATO member state is not able to locate the site in time, in a mountain range of less than 2,000 meters in height.
Reacting to Stroe’s resignation, PM Victor Ponta yesterday pointed to two state’s institutions for the failure to locate the crash site in time to save the lives of the two victims. “It is clearer and clearer the serious errors that directed the rescue teams looking for survivors to the wrong place have been made by Romatsa (the air traffic service administration) and STS (the Special Telecommunications Service)” Ponta said in a press conference. He said he had asked for flaws to be corrected and next week he would present proposals to streamline the emergency response system.