Tragic news is breaking now, as more than 300 people are dead – possibly more – along a hillside Monday morning. A deadly mudslide grew to an out-of-control scale in Freetown, which is the capital of Sierra Leone.
As The Guardian reports, a national emergency has been declared. This is horrific:
A national emergency has been called after the city suffered heavy flooding, thought to be the worst in Africa over the past two decades. Freetown’s mayor Sam Gibson said of 270 corpses had been recovered and were “being prepared for burial”. The country’s interior minister has reported that thousands of people are still missing.
At least a hundred houses were hit when a hillside in Regent, a mountainous town 15 miles east of Freetown, collapsed in the early hours of Monday morning.
Search and rescue efforts have continued throughout Tuesday, hampered by the country’s dangerous terrain and the sheer scale of the tragedy. The mudslide, which trapped residents while they were sleeping, is thought to have travelled for two miles.
Addressing the media, president Ernest Bai Koroma said the devastation “was overwhelming us”. “Entire communities have been wiped out,” Koroma said. “We need urgent support now.”
The Red Cross’ official body count is at 312 people. That number rises, and countless more are suffering from sickness. As Alex Carle, director of international programmes at the British Red Cross, announced, “The spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhea following flooding is also a huge concern.”
Three thousand people are homeless and have evacuated the area. A mass burial is planned for the corpses.
As resident Sorie Bangura reported, “There are dead everywhere and people don’t know where to go. There are only so many houses still standing, and we can’t take in everybody. What we need is help from the international community. People need shelter, clothes, anything. This is the rainy season and it might only get worse. There must be a way to stop this from happening but nobody seems to know how. I’m scared for my life because it could be my family next.”
This started being a disaster in the community of Regent, where more than 100 homes were carried away. It was “complete chaos,” said Hassan Barrie of Regent, who escaped death because he was away from home at the time of the mudslide. Sadly, his brother was at home.
Here is video of the floods, which are wrecking homes and killing people.
— CoolLe (@KuleVeZaka) August 14, 2017
Red Cross representative Foray K Marah said Monday that many bodies had been recovered. However, there is no way to identify all of them.
This is a breaking news story. We will have more details as they become available.