34 dead after bus driver flees accident by speeding through crowd of street musicians in Haiti

An angry mob then tried to set the bus on fire with the passengers inside

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 March, 2017, 10:11am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 March, 2017, 9:44pm

A bus speeding away from a hit-and-run accident ploughed into dozens of street musicians in northern Haiti on Sunday, killing 34 people, officials said.

Seventeen people also were injured in Gonaives, a city of some 300,000 people located about 150km northwest of the capital Port-au-Prince.

“First, the bus ploughed into two pedestrians, killing one of them, and injuring the other,” said Marie-Alta Jean Baptiste, head of Haiti’s civil protection office.

The driver then rammed into three groups of street musicians as he tried to speed away, leaving 33 of them dead in a scene of ghastly carnage. Another 17 people were being treated at hospitals.

Police were forced to control an angry crowd after the grisly incident in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.

“The people who were not victims of the accident tried to burn the bus with the passengers inside,” said Faustin Joseph, civic protection coordinator for the department of Artibonite, where Gonaives, the regional capital, is located.

The Blue Sky bus line, a private company offering long-distance routes, is a more upscale option for travel compared to the packed former American school buses that commonly ply the roads in Haiti.

Watch: at least 34 dead in Haiti bus accident

Authorities initially said they had detained the bus driver, but he had actually fled the scene, Gonaives traffic chief Jeudy Lisate said.

Police were still trying to identify him.

It’s not known what caused the initial crash, which occurred on a straight stretch of road without any potholes.

On Sunday afternoon a heavily damaged car was still in a ditch on the side of the road, but the accident scene had otherwise been cleaned up.

In a statement Haitian President Jovenel Moise “expressed his deep sadness following the terrible accident.”

“The head of state conveys, on behalf of the whole government, his sincere condolences to the families and those close to the victims,” the statement read.

Moise called for “an investigation as soon as possible to shine light on this tragedy.”