Published: Fri, August 18, 2017
World News | By Carolyn Briggs

Sierra Leone mourns mudslide victims as search for missing continues

Sierra Leone mourns mudslide victims as search for missing continues

CHURCH communities in Sierra Leone have shown a "great outpouring of love" in the wake of a major landslide which killed hundreds of people and left thousands more without homes, near the capital of Freetown, on Monday.

Three days of torrential rain triggered mudslides on Monday in the Regent area of the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown.

Sky's Rebecca Williams, in the capital Freetown, says she has been told that more than 500 bodies have now been brought to the city's morgue.

"Houses are buried and entire families are missing, including children", the charity's country director in Sierra Leone, Sasha Ekanayake, said.

He said the United Nations has mobilised its staff and is helping rescue and evacuate residents, while providing medical and food assistance to the injured and registering survivors.

To relieve pressure on the morgue, authorities and aid agencies were preparing to bury the bodies in four different cemeteries across Freetown on Wednesday, said Idalia Amaya, an emergency response coordinator for Catholic Relief Services. "I've spoken with other family members and we have chose to allow the government to go ahead with dignified burial process".

ActionAid said it had been told that, so far, 3,400 people have been reported missing.

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According to the amnesty report, millions of people in the nation of 7.4 million people live in "dangerously vulnerable" homes due to a lack of regulation and insufficient consideration for minimum standards and environmental laws. Sayo Jalloh lost 17 members of her family including her son and brother.

Forty people were killed in another landslide on Thursday in a fishing village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, said Pacifique Keta, the vice governor of Ituri province, adding that a search was under way for bodies buried in mud.

"We are also fearful of outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and typhoid", he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Freetown.

"The government has been warning people not to construct houses in these areas".

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the aid would be provided through the World Food Programme.

Mudslides and floods are fairly common in rainy parts of Africa, and deforestation and poor town planning often contribute to the risk.

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