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National tribute to victims of Strépy-Bracquegnies carnival tragedy

National tribute to carnival victims La Louvière - photo Belga
17:13 26/03/2022

A national tribute was paid to the victims of Sunday’s carnival tragedy in the presence of bereaved families, prime minister Alexander De Croo, interior minister Annelies Verlinden, Walloon minister-president Elio Di Rupo and La Louvière mayor Jacques Gobert on Saturday.

After meeting with the families of the victims, the ministers signed the register of condolences at La Louvière town hall, reports RTBF.

Prime minister De Croo made a brief speech before drums and musicians played a Gilles tune in tribute to the deceased carnival participants.

“It could have been our fathers, our mothers, our brothers, our sisters. They only hoped for one thing, to celebrate the return to a normal life after months spent seeing each other from a distance,” he said.

"We will not forget, but we will wind the watch of our hearts, and at each holiday we celebrate, at each drumbeat that will strike the arrival of spring, we will think of the victims, Frédéric, Laure, Mario, Michelina, Salvatore, Frédéric, cut off in the momentum of a day that promised to be radiant,” he concluded.

Mayor Gobert recalled that the carnival was a moment of brotherhood: "This moment is also a tribute to their love, to our love for folklore. Tomorrow we will repeat this same tribute to those who have left us, our duty to pick up the broken twigs of the carnival and restore its vigour with respect for the victims and with dignity.”

A minute of silence, punctuated by the sound of church bells, ended the tribute.

It was approaching dawn on Sunday morning when a car travelling at high speed ploughed into a crowd preparing for a carnival ceremony, killing six and injuring 39. The driver has been arrested on manslaughter charges, the passenger released on bail.

A minute’s silence in memory of the victims will be respected in the carnival celebrations due to start in the Hainaut region on Sunday, municipal authorities announced.

Photo: © Belga/Nicolas Maeterlinck

Written by Sarah Crew