Romania says Ekeng death inquiry reveals faulty ambulance equipment

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - An inquiry into the death of Dinamo Bucharest midfielder Patrick Ekeng has revealed that the ambulance company that took him to hospital had faulty equipment and medicine beyond its expiry date in some of its vehicles, Romania’s interior ministry said.

Dinamo Bucharest's Patrick Ekeng is transported to an ambulance after collapsing during a play-off match against Viitorul Constanta in Bucharest, Romania, May 6, 2016. Inquam Photos/via Reuters

The 26-year-old Cameroon international collapsed on the pitch from a suspected heart attack shortly after coming on as a 62nd-minute substitute in a match against Viitorul Constanta. He was pronounced dead two hours after the incident.

After his death, world football players’ union FIFPro raised concerns about the level of first-aid treatment for footballers in Romania, saying “it is clear that some Romanian clubs have a history of skimping on medical facilities”.

The interior ministry said it had suspended the licence of private company Puls for at least 30 days and imposed fines totalling 23,800 lei ($6,039.38) following an investigation of its equipment and the professional qualifications of its staff.

The ministry said in a statement issued late on Sunday that the investigation had revealed defibrillators with expired batteries in some ambulances belonging to the company, and medicine used in resuscitation procedures that had expired.

The results of an autopsy - in which a Cameroon doctor also took part - are expected to be published later on Monday.

Ekeng’s agent also criticised the treatment received by the African player.

“The ambulance arrived late,” Hasan Anil Eken told local media. “Actually there were three ambulances around the stadium but none of them had a defibrillator.”

Prosecutors in Bucharest announced on Saturday they had opened an enquiry into Ekeng’s death amid criticism of the treatment he received.

Last Friday, shortly before Ekeng’s death, about 500 people protested in Bucharest against conditions in Romanian hospitals after public pressure prompted the health ministry to publish data showing that roughly 20 percent of tested hospitals were using diluted disinfectants.

($1 = 3.9408 lei)

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Gareth Jones