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Haiti Cancels Last Day of Carnival After Fatal Accident

  • VOA News

People walk past the bodies of victims who died during a carnival parade, lined up outside the morgue at the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 17, 2015.

People walk past the bodies of victims who died during a carnival parade, lined up outside the morgue at the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 17, 2015.

Haiti's government canceled the last day of carnival and announced three days of mourning on Tuesday after 15 people were killed and at least 60 injured after a carnival float hit a power line in the capital, Port-au-Prince, setting off a stampede by bystanders, officials said.

According to witnesses, someone on the float used a pole to move a power line out of the way so the float could pass under it. Some victims were instantly electrocuted in a flash of sparks. Amateur video of the incident posted on YouTube appeared to show the electric cable catch the head of a singer from the hip-hop band Barikad Crew as it passed near the presidential stand packed with spectators.

The group's star singer, who goes by the name "Fantom," is in critical condition, the website Haiti Press Network reported.

People stand outside the morgue where the dead bodies of people killed when a carnival float hit power lines were taken in Port-au-Prince, Feb. 17, 2015.

People stand outside the morgue where the dead bodies of people killed when a carnival float hit power lines were taken in Port-au-Prince, Feb. 17, 2015.

Dr. Claude Surena, president of the emergency response unit for carnival told VOA's Creole service that some of the injured were treated at the scene and later transfered to local hospitals.

President Michel Martelly expressed his "sincerest sympathies'' to the victims in a Twitter message. His wife visited the hospitals that were treating the injured.


Haiti's three-day carnival festivities - the largest in the caribbean featuring dancing and singing - began Sunday under the theme "Nou Tout Se Ayiti" (we are all Haiti).

A reveler blows a whistle as he takes part in the National Carnival 2015 annual parade in Port-au-Prince, Feb. 15, 2015.

A reveler blows a whistle as he takes part in the National Carnival 2015 annual parade in Port-au-Prince, Feb. 15, 2015.

The high-spirited annual street parade coincides with other Mardi Gras carnivals around the world and attracts large night-time crowds eager to witness competing bands atop highly-decorated floats.

According to police, one person was killed and several dozen were injured on the first day of festivities. There were also several arrests according to officials.
The national carnival returned to Port-au-Prince for the first time in four years this year, after officials decided to allow Haiti's provinces organize festivities instead during the past years in Les Cayes, Gonaives and Cape Haitian.

Officials in Port-de-Paix, in the northwest asked officials to provide extra security in the town during carnival.


VOA's Creole service contributed to this report. Some material for this report came from Reuters.

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