Latvian PM Resigns After Worst Disaster in 2 Decades
Taking his government down with him in wake of supermarket roof collapse
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 27, 2013 6:59 AM CST
In this July 9, 2013, photo, Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis addresses the media.   (Yves Logghe)

(Newser) – Latvia's prime minister resigned yesterday after accepting political responsibility for the collapse of a supermarket roof in the capital that killed 54 people, including firefighters who rushed in to save shoppers, only to be crushed themselves when a second part of the roof collapsed. Valdis Dombrovskis' decision means that his center-right government automatically falls. He is the longest serving prime minister in Latvia's history. Last week's collapse of the Maxima supermarket was the worst disaster since Latvia declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and has caused a storm of outrage from Latvians.

Police have opened a criminal investigation into the cause of the tragedy. Possible explanations for the disaster include a flawed design, substandard construction materials, and corruption. President Andris Berzins can either reject the resignation or accept it and nominate an acting prime minister whose job it will be to form a new Cabinet. Dombrovskis came to power in 2009 and was re-appointed twice as prime minister since then; he is widely credited with preventing the small Baltic nation from going bankrupt.