Officials have cancelled the last day of the Haiti Carnival after a float accident in the capital Port-au-Prince killed 16 people Tuesday.
Seventy-eight others were injured when a singer on a carnival float hit an overhead power line, setting off a stampede Reuters reported Wednesday.
The government abruptly ended the raucous celebrations preceding the start of Lent and declared three days of national mourning.
Amateur video of early-morning tragedy showed a large flash as the high-voltage power line caught a popular singer known as Fantom atop the float as it passed near the presidential stand packed with spectators.
Most of the victims were trampled to death in the ensuing panic, witnesses said.
Fantom, part of the hip-hop band Barikad Crew, was among the injured and was in stable but serious condition in a hospital, according to one of his friends.
Prime Minister Evans Paul held a news conference to announce the cancellation of the event and three days of mourning.
“We are telling the people of Haiti that we must be in solidarity,” said Paul, who was accompanied by government ministers, artists and first lady Sophia Martelly.“We are all Haiti.”
Paul said the government and carnival organizers will hold a silent parade to remember the dead, with marchers dressed in white as a sign of mourning.
President Michel Martelly expressed his “sincerest sympathies” to the victims in a Twitter message and Sophia Martelly visited hospitals that were treating the injured.
Haiti’s rambunctious three-day annual street parade coincides with other Mardi Gras celebrations around the world and attracts large nighttime crowds eager to witness competing bands atop highly decorated floats.
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