Thousands attend funeral in Haiti for 17 Carnival victims

AP News
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Posted: Feb 21, 2015 3:12 PM
Thousands attend funeral in Haiti for 17 Carnival victims

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Thousands of people streamed into Haiti's main public park on Saturday to honor the 17 victims who died in an accident involving a Carnival float.

Many mourners wore white T-shirts with a phrase in Creole that read, "In good times, in bad times, we're all Haitians."

White caskets draped with the Haitian flag were lined up in front of a stage where government officials including President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Evans Paul greeted the victims' relatives and friends.

Some mourners were led away from the caskets as they cried and collapsed to the ground at the Champ de Mars park in Port-au-Prince.

The accident occurred early Tuesday when a singer aboard one of 16 Carnival floats touched a power line and caused the crowd to panic, resulting in a stampede. At least 78 others were injured.

"Everyone was hit by these deaths," said Herold Charles Civil, a 37-year-old preacher who attended the government-sponsored funeral. "I came here to grieve with the families and tell them that we also feel the pain of losing their loved ones."

Authorities have not said whether any of those who died were electrocuted. Four people remain hospitalized.

The Haitian singer, Daniel Darinus who goes by the stage name Fantom, was treated for burns and said an unexpected move forward caused the accident. It is a common practice in Haiti and elsewhere to have someone atop a parade float move low-hanging power lines.

Among the musicians attending the funeral was Garcia Delva, who said the annual Carnival celebration should be better organized, and have a team working on it year-round.

"They've got to change everything," he said. "It's Carnival. It's big."

Government officials canceled the third and final day of Carnival celebration following the accident and declared three days of mourning.