GONAIVES, Haiti (Reuters) - Haitian President Jovenel Moise on Saturday told the grief-stricken relatives of 38 people killed in a bus collision last week that he would bring order to the country’s roads, vowing to carry out an investigation into the crash.
Speaking at an emotional mass funeral in the northern city of Gonaives, attended by roughly 2,000 relatives, friends and local politicians, Moise pledged to investigate the incident and bring justice to those affected.
“We will bring order to the traffic of Haitian streets,” Moise said, promising to install vehicle inspection points throughout the country. “We must know how this vehicle was able to kill people and how the driver was able to flee justice.”
The incident occurred late last Saturday evening when a bus, traveling from Cap Haitien to the capital Port-au-Prince, hit two people in a town outside Gonaives, killing one. The driver then fled and crashed into three “rara” parades in nearby Mapou.
Rara parades, which usually take place around Easter, are groupings of musicians playing traditional instruments who are often joined by passers-by.
After being released from custody, the bus driver fled, and remains a fugitive, police say.
At the service on Saturday, people close to the victims slowly filed into the square, where flags for Haiti and Gonaives hung at half-mast. Some stopped to see the white and gold caskets, all labeled with the name of the person inside and decorated with wreaths of white, red and yellow flowers.
Victims’ loved ones mostly wore black and white, while others wore T-shirts bearing tributes to the deceased. Some attendees writhed on the ground, screaming tearfully.
“He wasn’t ready! He wasn’t ready!” one woman yelled.
Quico Bien-Aime had come to mourn the death of his brother, Dupito. “It was the music he loved,” Bien-Aime said, referring to his younger brother’s love of rara. “He loved music a lot.”
Editing by Gabriel Stargardter and James Dalgleish