Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(PORT-AU-PRINCE) — As a moment of silence was held in Haiti on Friday to mark the eighth anniversary of the devastating quake that killed more than 220,000 people, shock waves over President Donald Trump's disparaging description of the island nation cast a pall over the somber ceremony.
On a day when Haitians planned to mourn the dead, outrage swept across the country over Trump reportedly describing Haiti and countries in Africa as "s—hole countries" during an Oval Office meeting on the eve of the anniversary of the 2010 earthquake.
During the moment of silence in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, President Jovenel Moise placed the first stone for the construction of a new National Palace, which was destroyed in the quake, after denouncing Trump's comments as "racist" earlier Friday.
"The Haitian government condemns in the strongest terms these abhorrent and obnoxious remarks which, if proven, reflect a totally erroneous and racist view of the Haitian community and its contribution to the United States," Moise said in a statement.
In a tweet Friday, Trump denied saying "anything derogatory about Haitians."
Haitians on the island and across the United States, where more than 600,000 Haitians live, offered prayers at ceremonies for those who were killed by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck on Jan. 12, 2010.
As Haitian flags flew at half-mast across the Haiti Friday, Moise laid a wreath of white flowers at a mass grave where scores of earthquake victims were buried.
Elsewhere in Haiti, mourners gathered at graves to lay flowers and remember loved ones lost.
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