Over 300 die as mudslides and floods wipe out homes

by Jared Lewis August 16, 2017, 12:26
Over 300 die as mudslides and floods wipe out homes

"It appears many people were still sleeping when heavy rains triggered the mudslide which engulfed the area", NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reported.

Bulldozers dug through mud and rubble at the foot of Mount Sugar Loaf, where many residents had been asleep when part of the mountainside collapsed.

The death toll now stands at 312 but it is likely that not even a quarter of the bodies have been found.

The Red Cross said the death toll had risen to 312. "One of them even chose the socks I should put on", a man called Malikie told the BBC.

She was one of the survivors, those who managed to escape the surging mudslides and floodwaters in and around Sierra Leone's capital that killed more than 300 people, many of them trapped as they slept.

President Ernest Bai Koroma said the country needed "urgent support now".

"I have never seen anything like it", he said.

The society described the flash flooding as the worst natural disaster to strike the nation as hundreds were left homeless.

Linnea Van Wagenen of the United Nations told The Guardian that they were using satellite imagery to map out the scale of the disaster, and warned that there could be more mudslides.

Kelfa Kargbo, country director in Sierra Leone for the organisation Street Child, which is assisting with the recovery, said the mudslide started at 3am when a heavy downpour covered Freetown, bringing down all the houses built along the side of the hill in Regent.

"Kenya and Sierra Leone are allies, partners and friends, so our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives were lost, and with all those who were injured", Kenyatta said in a statement.

"We were inside. We heard the mudslide approaching". "We are trying to cordon the area. He was crying about the number of lives that had been lost".

"I ran away from the house, leaving behind my family", a grieving Kamara told The Associated Press.

"Fellow Sierra Leoneans, this tragedy of great magnitude has once again challenged us to stand by one another", Koroma said.

The Red Cross estimates 600 people are missing and 3,000 people have been left homeless by the disaster, while communications and electricity supply have also been affected.

Freetown is dotted with scores of informal settlements, many of which are on hilltops or close to the sea, making them vulnerable to landslides and flooding.

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