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Horror at Haiti Carnival: Thousands watch as at least 18 people killed and 60 more hurt by power line falling onto packed float {VIDEO}

Carnival disaster: Thousands of Haitians throng the streets of Port-au-Prince, hampering the movement of ambulances minutes after a power line fell onto a Carnival parade float and killed at least 18 people

  • Witnesses say someone tried to move the power line with a stick or pole
  • It fell across the float electrocuting victims instantly in a flash of sparks
  • At least 18 victims died according to a doctor at the General Hospital
  • As many as 60 people were injured after panic erupted in the crowd

At least 18 people were killed during the Haiti Carnival today when they were electrocuted by a power line falling on their packed float.

The accident happened as thousands of people filled the streets of central Port-au-Prince, the Caribbean country's capital, for the raucous annual celebration.

Witnesses at the scene said someone on the float used a pole or stick to move a power line so the float could pass under it, but video appeared to show it striking the head of a singer riding on top.

Emergency response: Ambulances and paramedics at the scene of the accident in the early hours of the morning. Witnesses said the power line fell after someone tried to use a pole or stick to move it   

Carnival disaster: Thousands of Haitians throng the streets of Port-au-Prince, hampering the movement of ambulances minutes after a power line fell onto a Carnival parade float and killed at least 18 people


Emergency response: Ambulances and paramedics at the scene of the accident in the early hours of the morning. Witnesses said the power line fell after someone tried to use a pole or stick to move it

Ambulances race to the scene of Haitian Carnival incident

Seven people were reported dead on the float, which caught fire after the flash of sparks, Reuters reported.

Others managed to jump off, leading to more deaths and injuries in the densely packed crowd of spectators as people began to panic.

A further 46 people were injured in the accident, according to Nadia Lochard, a coordinator for the Department of Civil Protection. Reuters put the toll of injuries at 60, without citing a source.

The float was sponsored by the Haitian hip-hop group Barikad Crew. An unverified video posted to YouTube and on social media today shows a rapper from the group hit in the head by an exposed power line while riding a tall float.

A second YouTube video shows crowds parting as paramedics race to the scene in an ambulance.

'I saw the wire falling and sparks and I started running for my life,' said Natacha Saint Fleur, a 22-year-old who was near the float at the time.

Dr Joel Desire at the General Hospital, where many of the victims were taken, said at least 18 people died. It was not immediately clear if other victims had been taken elsewhere.

Hundreds of people thronged the hospital, some carrying victims and others searching for family members taken there by ambulance.

Party time: Dancers file past in a Carnival parade to the national palace in Port-au-Prince yesterday
Party time: Dancers file past in a Carnival parade to the national palace in Port-au-Prince yesterday

Letting loose: Haiti's Carnival is said to be the biggest Mardi Gras carnival in the Caribbean
Letting loose: Haiti's Carnival is said to be the biggest Mardi Gras carnival in the Caribbean

President Michel Martelly expressed his 'sincerest sympathies' to the victims in a Twitter message.

A statement by Haiti's Minister for Information, Rotchild Francois jr, carried on the Dynasty Haiti website, said: 'The Government of the Republic informs the public that an unfortunate accident, following an electric shock, happened earlier this morning at 2.48am when Barikad Crew's carnival float passed through the area of the Champ de Mars in the course of the second day of the National carnival 2015.

'A preliminary assessment allows for more than a dozen dead and forty wounded. The government offers its sympathies to the families of the victims and said that all arrangements have been made to assist all those affected by this tragedy. The public will be kept informed of developments.'

Costumes: The disaster will cast a dark cloud over the Carnival finale today
Costumes: The disaster will cast a dark cloud over the Carnival finale today

Voodoo: A reveller touches a snake with his teeth for good luck during the Carnival celebrations
Voodoo: A reveller touches a snake with his teeth for good luck during the Carnival celebrations

The disaster will be a blow for Haiti's battered economy, which is still recovering from a massive earthquake in 2010 that killed as many as 200,000 people.

Known in the local Creole language as 'Haitian Defile Kanaval', Haiti's Carnival is said to be one of the largest Mardi Gras carnivals in the Caribbean and North America.

The celebrations, which are funded by the government, businesses and wealthy Haitian families, were to climax today, Shrove Tuesday, known

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Comment by Sandra Fuller on February 18, 2015 at 7:36am

My condolences to all who have been touched by this tragedy. 

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