African Press Association

Hundreds buried under rubble in deadly mudslides

From TETEH KAMARA in Freetown, Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, (CAJ News) – VOLUNTEERS and rescue agencies are making frantic efforts to dig for hundreds of survivors and supporting distraught families in the wake of heavy flooding and mudslides that have killed over 300 people in Sierra Leone.
Current estimates indicate 3 000 have been left homeless following the disaster ripping through communities in and around Freetown.
Dozens of children are likely among the casualties in the devastating mudslide that buried houses and trapped families in their homes, Save the Children warned.
Many affected by the storm were living in unsecured structures that were swept away by the deluge of water.
Communication lines and electricity have been disrupted.
The International Federation of Red Cross, which has been working alongside rescue teams, said in some places, entire communities seem to have been washed away and whatever was left is covered in mud.
Red Cross volunteers were on Thursday (yesterday) on site digging with bare hands and whatever tools available to find survivors.
“They are also caring for and helping family members who are desperately waiting for news of their loved ones,” said Abdul Nasir, Red Cross coordinator.
Direct Relief has made a large inventory of medicines and supplies available to the country’s Medical Research Centre.
Vice President Victor Foh said hundreds of people could be lying dead underneath the rubble, and search and rescue efforts are continuing.
Freetown, a dense coastal city of more than 1 million people, has received triple the amount of rain usually seen, more than 41 inches since July.
Ten people died in mudslides in 2015.
The African Union appealed to all Africans and the diaspora, as well as to international partners, to support Sierra Leone respond to the disaster, which occurred only two years after it recovered from the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. Ebola killed 11 000 people.
 CAJ News