Haiti Government Cancels Carnival After 16 People Die In Accident
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
People in Port au Prince are mourning today, a day usually reserved for celebration. At least 16 people died during a Mardi Gras parade. They were electrocuted in trampled after a float struck a power line. Dozens more were injured. The government has canceled the rest of the Carnival celebrations and has called for three days of mourning. Peter Granitz reports from Port au Prince.
PETER GRANITZ, BYLINE: The accident happened shortly before 3 this morning, as Carnival floats amid thousands of revelers packed the city's central square. But this afternoon, cars navigate the plywood stands that sit on each side of the road. They're covered in neon paint, advertising the companies and government ministries that sponsor the viewing decks. Signs carry this year's Carnival slogan - nou tout se Ayiti - we are all Haiti. Right now that seems more appropriate than ever. Workers sweep the stages and pack up audio equipment amid the traffic. There will be no third night of Carnival in Haiti tonight. Instead, Prime Minister Evans Paul called for a silent parade with artists dressed in white to remember the 16 dead and dozens who were hurt. And beginning Wednesday, the country will observe three days of mourning with flags flying at half-staff.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
PRIME MINISTER EVANS PAUL: (Foreign language spoken).
GRANITZ: "We cannot dance with our brothers and sisters. We cannot celebrate with our brothers and sisters," Paul told the nation in a midday press conference. "Instead, we can respect their memories."
The government has promised to help victims' families with medical care and has scheduled a state funeral for Saturday. For NPR News, I'm Peter Granitz in Port au Prince.