Prosecutors Launch Criminal Inquiry Into Romanian Maternity Hospital

Romanian authorities have launched a criminal inquiry into a Bucharest maternity hospital where five newborns died and six others were injured in a fire last week, the chief prosecutor in charge of the investigation said Wednesday. The inquiry will end in a trial, and the hospital could be shut down if a judge decides it should be, Marius Iacob said. In the investigation that followed the August 16 blaze at Giulesti Maternity Hospital, authorities found violations of safety rules involving workers, the security of electrical systems, and human resources management, Iacob said. The hospital faces charges of manslaughter and unintentionally causing injuries, said Iacob. Florentina Cirstea, a nurse in charge of the maternity hospital's intensive care unit, where the fire broke out, faces the same charges. A judge on Tuesday ordered Cirstea jailed for 29 days while she awaits trial. The hospital's current interim manager met with prosecutors Wednesday. Authorities also questioned the hospital's suspended manager and plan to do so again, Iacob said. The hospital has filed a malpractice insurance claim for 500,000 euros (about $632,500), he said, but that will not cover the damages, which have been estimated at at least 1 million euros ($1.25 million) and possibly higher. That does not include any claims filed by the victims' families, Iacob said. More people may be charged in the case, the prosecutor said. Meanwhile, Cirstea's colleagues at the hospital sent out a letter to media outlets Wednesday expressing their support for her and blaming the Romanian health care system for the tragedy. During her 14 years as a nurse in the intensive care unit, Cirstea has taken care of thousands of premature babies with health problems. Many have been saved because of her professionalism, the staffers said in the letter. Cirstea's attroney, Simona Luciana Parvu, has appealed the judge's decision to jail her client. The judge on Tuesday accepted the prosecutors' request to arrest Cirs
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