An estimated 70 people were electrocuted when a Carnival float struck a power line in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Authorities confirmed 46 were injured and at least 20 were killed in the devastating incident.
The accident occurred during the Haitian capital’s annual Carnival celebration — with thousands of spectators lining the streets. Although the incident is still under investigation, witnesses report that someone aboard the float was attempting to move a power line out of the way.
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) February 17, 2015
As floats often exceed the height of power lines, passengers are responsible for moving the cables out of the way during parades. However, moving the lines can be incredibly dangerous. Unfortunately, Carnival float electrocutions are not uncommon. On Tuesday morning, three people were killed in a similar incident in Brazil. Officials said the three victims were electrocuted when a Carnival float struck a power line outside Rio de Janeiro.
ABC News reports that the Haiti float was sponsored by a musical group called Barikad Crew. Although many victims were performers on the float, a majority of those killed were “trampled to death” in the resulting panic.
Communications Minister Rothchild Francis said the Haiti government is offering assistance to the victims and their families. First lady Sophia Martelly traveled to the hospital to offer her support to the injured. However, she refused to discuss her visit with reporters.
Officials are expected to cancel the remainder of the planned Carnival celebration out of respect for those injured and killed.
The Carnival season is traditionally celebrated in late February prior to the beginning of Lent. During the Lenten period, Roman Catholics often abstain from having parties and consuming rich foods. Therefore, Carnival celebrations are often quite festive, with colorful parades and grand feasts.
Unfortunately, Haiti and Brazil’s 2015 Carnival celebrations were clouded in tragedy.
Officials said a majority of the victims in Haiti were transported to the General Hospital for treatment. However, their names and current condition are unknown.
As the Carnival float electrocution incident is still under investigation, it is unclear whether officials will consider a safer plan for future Carnival parades.