Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

Fears for 600 still missing in S Leone floods

Volunteers search for bodies from the scene of heavy flooding and mudslides in Regent just outside of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown. Tuesday Aug. 15, 2017. Survivors of deadly mudslides in Sierra Leone’s capital are vividly describing the disaste Israel Sending Aid to Sierra Leone Following Deadly Flooding and Landslide
Saul Franklin | 17 August, 2017, 13:55

Concern shifted on Wednesday to the estimated 600 people still missing and thousands made homeless in Sierra Leone by deadly floods in the capital, as it emerged that at least a third of those killed were children.

He also said that there was a risk of further flooding that was adding to the worry in the area. The government hopes to have an updated death toll by the end of today.

The mayor of Freetwon, Sierra Leonean capital, Sam Gibson, said 270 corpses had been recovered and were "being prepared for burial", while the chief coroner told Reuters that almost 400 bodies had been found. An unofficial morgue toll put the number of deaths from at 400. The country's President, Ernest Bai Koroma, and other dignitaries are expected to attend the afternoon ceremony.

The government summoned families to the morgue and said all unidentified corpses would be buried on Thursday and Friday.

Charities such as World Vision are providing emergency and hygiene kits to survivors, including water purification tablets to avert unsafe diseases like cholera and typhoid.

"It remains a priority to recover the remains of those who perished in the landslide, but also equally to help survivors and help the community", Saigal said. "So as the president said, let the mass burials go ahead", said Adizah Conda at the morgue after losing seven members of her extended family.

Ahmed Sesay, the caretaker of a two-story house near the Guma Valley Dam east of the capital, said he was sleeping around 6:00 GMT when he felt a vibration.

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The charity's Zynab Kamara said: "In almost a decade of working on humanitarian response I've never witnessed anything so tragic".

Sulaiman Parker, the environmental protection officer on the Freetown City Council, said bodies would be buried in the next 48 hours.

"We have started burying some of the mutilated and decomposed bodies".

But this year has been particularly wet, with Freetown receiving more than 27 inches of rain between July 1 and August 13 - more than double the average of 11.8 inches, according to the US National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center.

He said flags would fly at half-mast and called for urgent help after visiting the devastated hilltop community of Regent on Tuesday.

The country of 6 million people is one of the poorest in the world and was ravaged by West Africa's 2014-16 Ebola outbreak, which killed about 4,000 people in the former British colony.

"I have never seen anything like it", said Abdul Nasir, programme coordinator for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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