PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – At least 38 people were killed and about a dozen injured in northern Haiti late on Saturday after a bus drove into a parade of pedestrians while fleeing from an accident, the country’s civil protection authorities said on Sunday.
The bus, which was traveling from Cap Haitien to the capital Port-au-Prince, initially hit two people in a town outside Gonaives in the north of the country, killing one, said Joseph Faustin, civil protection head in the Artibonite department.
The bus driver then fled and crashed into three “rara” parades in Mapou, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) away, Faustin said.
Rara parades, which usually take place around Easter, are groupings of musicians playing traditional instruments who are often joined by passers-by.
In total, 34 people were killed at the scene and an another four people died in hospital, said Fred Henry, the area’s deputy representative, who added that the incident had occurred around 4 a.m.
“Usually the drivers involved in such accidents don’t stop because they are afraid they might be killed [in reprisal],” Henry said.
It was not immediately clear what caused the accident.
The driver and passengers on the bus were taken to the police station, said Patrick Cherilus, a Civil Protection spokesman for the department of Artibonite.
They have since been released and the bus driver has fled, said Jean Bazlais Bornelus, the police chief for the area, said.
After the accident, other musicians and people in the parade began hurling rocks at the bus and passing vehicles, injuring other people, said Albert Moulion, the Ministry of the Interior’s spokesman.
Haitian roads are dangerous and chaotic, with few rules observed by pedestrians, motorcyclists and drivers.
President Jovenel Moise called for an investigation into the incident.
“The head of state sends … sincere condolences to the victims’ families and loved ones,” he added.