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Romanian prime minister fires government official over flawed plane rescue; 2 others resign

Responding to public anger over the delayed response to a plane crash, Romania's prime minister dismissed a senior Interior Ministry official Wednesday while the heads of the country's air traffic control and emergency services resigned.

It took hours for officials to locate the plane a mountain Monday and two people died while waiting for medical assistance. Hypothermia was among the causes of death.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta said there were "inacceptable deficiencies" in the rescue operation. He fired an interior ministry state secretary and called for the air traffic control chief and head of the elite communications service — not under his authority — to be removed. Air traffic control chief Aleodor Francu later resigned.

The head of the emergency services resigned later Wednesday after Ponta said the rescue operation was "unacceptably slow, nobody assumed authority and responsibility, and Monday's intervention was a failure."

Residents located the stricken plane 4½ hours after it crashed, but medical teams arrived much later, provoking public anger.

The small British plane, which was 35 years old, was transporting medics from Bucharest to western Romania to harvest organs for transplant when it came down Monday. All seven on board initially survived the landing.

The 54-year-old pilot, with 16,000 flying hours, died from hypothermia and multiple injuries, according to an autopsy. A 23-year-old medical student on the plane died of hypothermia and breathing difficulties.