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Crossing Continents

Europe’s Most Dangerous Capital

Duration: 28 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC Radio 4 LWLatest broadcast: on BBC Radio 4 LW

Available for over a year

Bucharest, in Romania, is arguably Europe’s most dangerous capital city. It’s not the crime that’s the problem – it’s the buildings. Many of them don’t comply with basic laws and building regulations. Permits are regularly faked. And yet Bucharest is the most earthquake prone European capital. A serious quake would cause many of the buildings to collapse, with a potential loss of life into the thousands. Some years ago a red dot was put on a number of buildings in the city which were in danger of collapse. Nothing else has happened since. A microcosm of the problem is a type of building called ‘camine de nefamilisti’ or, ‘homes for those without families’. These were built during the Ceaucescu era to temporarily house workers brought in from the countryside and people who were still single after university. The single room flats, the size of a prison cell, with one communal shower and three Turkish style toilets per floor were never meant for families. But after the fall of Communism many of these ‘matchboxes’ ended up in private hands and conditions deteriorated with whole families moved into spaces designed for a single person. Simona Rata grew up in one of these buildings. For Crossing Continents she returns to the ‘camine de nefamilisti’ and finds little has changed since her childhood. The overcrowded blocks with poor sanitary conditions make tackling Covid difficult and the stability of the buildings remains a source of grave concern.
Reporter and producer: Simona Rata. Editor, Bridget Harney Show less

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