The Tragic Story Of Catalina, Killed By The Living Hell Of Romania's Drug Sewers
Last month Channel 4 News reported the incredible story of people living in Romanian sewers. Now they've gone back to tell the story of 18-year-old Catalina, who died from AIDS-related illnesses last week.
When Channel 4 News uncovered a parallel society of sewer-dwelling people beneath Bucharest, they met a string of fascinating characters. Now one of them, Catalina, is dead.
Catalina lived among the community of drug addicts and died while queuing for drugs – in front of an icon of the Virgin Mary.
She told journalists Paraic O'Brien and Jim Wickens last month: "This is where I destroyed myself."
Catalina was one of the main figures whom Channel 4 followed in a story that went around the world – the programme was invited to attend her funeral.
The journalists say: "We were ushered through the cobble stones and courtyard, past children playing in the dust and adults weeping by the door of the tiny tin roofed shack..."
"Catalina lay in the open casket veiled in a bridal gown, as is custom for Roma girls who die before their wedding day..."
"A priest stood to one side, chanting prayers as her sisters stood over her, fussing over the veil, or rearranging her beloved pink CD player that they had stuffed under her pillow, music to keep her company in the grave."
On the day of the funeral, Bruce Lee (left) – the self-styled King of the Sewers — arrived barefoot and with his head painted with aurolac, bright silver paint that the addicts sniff.
Eliza, one of Catalina's best friends who was filmed joking around in the tunnels weeks earlier, told C4: "We met in a foster house named Pinocchio. I hanged out with her everywhere. She was like a sister to me."
Catalina was one of five siblings born into acute poverty and was abandoned as a baby.
The funeral procession, with its drug addict pall bearers, made its way through Bucharest, clashing with the size and grandness of the city above.
The procession made its way to the entrance to the sewers where Catalina lived.
And then her body was put in the ground, surrounded by a small crowd who placed flowers on the casket.