LA PAZ : Four people were killed and more than 60 injured late Saturday when a bridge collapsed onto spectators and marching musicians in the opening Carnival parade in the Oruro highlands. Interior Minister Carlos Romero said three of the dead were musicians from the Poopo band, while the other was walking on the temporary footbridge, which collapsed due to overload. Bolivian President Evo Morales, a band musician in his youth, "has sent his condolences and sympathy, and expressed solidarity with the families of the victims and the people of Oruro as a whole," Romero said. Despite the tragedy, the local folklore association vowed to keep the festival running. "Obviously, this is very painful... So we have suggested to divert the parade" to a different route to keep the festivities going," association president Jacinto Quispaya told reporters. Some dancers completed the four-kilometer (2.5-mile) course without their traditional masks and holding a black banner to mark their mourning, according to local radio.
Around 300,000 people usually attend the parade in the southwestern Andean mining town of Oruro, known as Bolivia's capital of folklore, in honor of the Virgin of Candelaria, patron saint of the tunnels.
At least 35,000 dancers and 6,000 musicians participate in this festival, declared by UNESCO as an "intangible cultural heritage of humanity."