By Onz Chery and Oldjy Francois
CAP-HAITIEN — At least 20 people have died in the past five days in a series of incidents that occurred across Haiti, including an airplane crash, a truck wreck and a murder-suicide. In one incident Apr. 20, a fire erupted in Milot in northern Haiti, and while a pregnant woman was burning her baby slipped out of her stomach into the fire and died too, witnesses said.
“There’s no safeguarding of life,” said Roland Gédéus, a Cap-Haitien resident. “The people are already in extreme misery, in difficulty and they’re dying on top of it.”
At least six fatal incidents have been reported since Apr. 16.
In the latest fire, at least four people died and several others were injured after a home caught on fire in Barriere Batan, an area in Milot, said Marc Donald Vincent, an urban planner at Milot’s town hall.
Two children, a pregnant woman, and two other people perished while trying to save the children in the Apr. 20 blaze. The father of the family was in critical condition at the hospital, according to local reporters.
In photos of the scene, residents are seen staring at the burnt bodies on the ground in the afternoon sun.
Authorities have yet to release the names of the victims nor a preliminary cause.
However, local sources told The Haitian Times, the home caught on fire soon after members of the family, including the pregnant woman, filled up a gasoline container. It is common for many Haitians to store gas at home for later use due to gas shortages.
The incident that caused the most reported deaths at the scene is an Apr. 20 plane crash in Carrefour, Port-au-Prince, that left at least six people dead, Justice of the Peace Moise Jean told local reporters.
It is not clear how the crash happened but as a result of it a truck carrying merchandise and a tap tap bus overturned.
The five passengers of the plane and a taxi-moto driver died, including pilot Amado Gutierrez. He succumbed to his injuries after being transported to Adventist Hospital of Diquini in Carrefour.
The plane was flying from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel, a commune in the Southeastern Department, according to local reports. Many have been traveling to the southern region by plane because gangs put up blockades along a major thoroughfare in Martissant, Port-au-Prince that leads to the south.
One day prior, part of Beaudouin Market caught on fire in Jacmel during the wee hours of Apr. 19. No injuries or deaths were reported but vendors were left in tears after their goods were burned.
In Gonaives Apr. 18, police officer Blémur Accilé shot his sister Wisline Accilé, his niece Roosederlie Céide, his brother-in-law Yfradieu Céide, then killed himself Apr. 18. He had apparently suffered from mental illnesses, a spokesperson for the Haitian National Police told The Haitian Times.
Earlier on Apr. 16, at least six people died in a truck accident in Meyer, a village in Jacmel. The truck, which was carrying rara revelers, crashed and overturned onto several people.
A boat also sank in Jacmel, local officials said. Authorities have yet to say if there were any deaths nor provided any details.
“I am deeply saddened after having learned the news of the accident, in Méyer, commune of Jacmel, that caused several victims, including deaths and injuries,” Prime Minister Ariel Henry tweeted the day of the truck wreck. “I offer my condolences to the families of the victims of this new tragedy, while renewing my full support.”
Henry said on Twitter that he has ordered officials to investigate the cause of the plane crash and the fire at Beaudouin Market.
Hitting rock bottom with “preventable” tragedies
Henry has yet to say how he plans to assist the victims. Numerous Haitians near and far say the fatal incidents leave them feeling desolate and even more worried.
“Every problem leads to another,” Melanie Bastien, an activist, commented on Twitter about the plane crash. “When will we stop watching Haiti hit rock bottom?”
Maureen Petit-Frere, a feminist, also took to social media to urge authorities to push for better airplane maintenance.
“It’s regrettable that we’re counting dead people every day like that,” Petit-Frere commented on Twitter. “Those catastrophes can be prevented.”
Gédéus, a lawyer by trade, said, “The state [country’s government] is nonexistent. Everyone is on their own. I don’t see hope.”