Europe’s most dangerous capital

The Documentary Podcast

By BBC World Service

Europe’s most dangerous capital

Thursday, 4 February

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 a communal shower and toilet on each 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 Assignment, she returns to the ‘camine de nefamilisti’ and finds little has changed since her childhood. Reporter and producer: Simona Rata Assistant editor: John Murphy Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Abandoned building on Calea Mosilor, a busy street in the centre of Bucharest. Credit: Simona Rata/BBC)
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