These Images Of Romania’s Sewer-Dwelling Poor Are Heartbreaking

Tonight’s Channel 4 News will carry an amazing report on the lives of the poor in Bucharest.

1. There are hundreds of adults and children living in tunnels beneath Romania’s capital Bucharest.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

2. They’ve been abandoned to a life of drug addiction.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

3. When the country’s Communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu fell in 1989, thousands of children were left in orphanages.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

4. The barbaric conditions in these orphanages were revealed by the media a year later.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

5. Some of these children moved into the tunnels of Bucharest, and had children of their own.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

6. Channel 4 reporters ventured underground to meet those who live there.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

7. They say the hot chambers reek of a paint called Aurolac, which the addicts snort.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

8. Nicu, left, is actually 17 years old, but his growth has been stunted by drug abuse.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

9. This man is doling out the paint for the equivalent of 50p a hit.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

10. People down in the tunnels are also taking a drug similar to methadone.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

11. The reporters say: “Everyone here is HIV positive, a quarter have TB.”

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

12. This man is called “Bruce Lee”, a name he picked up in his street-fighting days. You can see the scarring on his arms, a result of self-harm.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

13. The reporters say: “There is a twisted order to Bruce Lee’s underground fiefdom. Social workers told us he tries to protect the young ones from sexual predators.”

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

14. He pays protection money to a local gang.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

15. Lee tells the reporters that the people down here are not the scum of society.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

16. He wants them to know that they are a family.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

17. As for Nicu, Bruce Lee won’t let him inject any more, but he’s still using Aurolac.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

18. Nicu needs anti-viral treatment as he contracted AIDS last year, but the state hospital can’t treat him whilst he is still sniffing paint.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

19. Nicu says Bruce Lee was the only one who visited him every day while he was in hospital.

Radu Ciorniciuc / Casa Journalist

Watch ‘Bruce Lee, King of Bucharest’s Sewers’ in a special report for Channel 4 News tonight (Tuesday) at 7pm.

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Alan White is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
 
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