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Freetown: rescue workers looking for survivors of mudslides

Ⓒ AFP – SAIDU BAH – | Sierra Leone authorities try to help the thousands of flood victims of 14 August 2017 in Freetown

The rescue services were trying Tuesday to search for survivors in the rubble of several districts of the capital of Sierra Leone Freetown, ravaged by mudslides and floods that have left more than 300 dead and thousands homeless .

The authorities have also opened a reception center to help more than 3,000 inhabitants of the Regent district, which is situated on a hill and swept away by landslides.

Red Cross spokesman Patrick Massaquoi told AFP that the official death toll of 312 would likely be increased, while Interior Minister Paolo Conteh said thousands of people were Missing.

“Our nation is once again grappling with grief,” said Head of State Ernest Bai Koroma in a speech to the Nation.

“Many of our compatriots have lost their lives, many more have been seriously injured and millions of property leones have been destroyed by floods and landslides that have affected Freetown,” he said.

“All families, all ethnic groups, all regions have been directly or indirectly affected and affected by this disaster,” he stressed, adding that centers will be established through this city of more than 1 million inhabitants with notoriously inadequate infrastructure.

– Leached areas –

Ⓒ AFP – Kun TIAN – | Torrential rain causes over 300 deaths in Sierra Leone

Three days of torrential rains caused Monday morning a whole section of the hill of the Regent district, overlooking the center of Freetown, and flooding throughout the capital.

Shantytowns clinging to the hills or to the coastline have been swept away by mudslides and torrents of mad water, overflowing with submerged drainage and sewer systems.

“In some areas entire communities have been washed away by the waters and what remains is covered with mud,” said Abdul Nasir, program coordinator for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Red Cross volunteers had to work with their bare hands in the mud or with makeshift tools for lack of suitable rescue equipment, he added.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it would send “immediate assistance” and European Union Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Christos Stylianides said the EU was “ready to help” Sierra Leone, One of the poorest countries in the world, struggling to recover from several years of civil war and an epidemic of Ebola that killed more than 4,000 people in 2014 and 2015.

Deputy Minister of Information Cornelius Deveaux – whose superior himself was wounded in the floods – said hundreds of homes had lost everything in the disaster, one of the worst ever known in Freetown.

Ⓒ Society 4 climate change communication Sierra Leone/AFP – STR – | Mud torrents and floods killed more than 300 on 14 August 2017 in Freetown

Located on the seafront, the capital of Sierra Leone is hit every year by floods which cause their share of diseases – dysentery and cholera in particular.

In September 2015, floods killed 10 people and some 9,000 homeless people in the capital of this small English-speaking West African country, ranked 179 out of 188 in the 2016 scale of human development in the United Nations.

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