At least 200 still missing in Sierra Leone mudslide: official

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-16 01:02:15|Editor: yan
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by Alusine Sesay

FREETOWN, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Chief coordinator of the Emergency Response Center set up by the government of Sierra Leone in Freetown, the capital city, revealed to the media Tuesday that over 500 people have been registered as missing since a devastating mudslide struck an area on the outskirts of Freetown early Monday.

However, out of these registered people, nearly 300 of them have been discovered dead, and sent to the Connaught Hospital Mortuary, according to coordinator Evon Aki-Sawyer.

This means at least 200 people are still missing from the mudslide and flooding disaster that occurred on Monday morning in the West African country following heavy rains.

To collect data on residents in the disaster affected areas of Sugar Loaf, Kaningo in the Lumley community and other parts of the city, the government set up the emergency response center at Regent town in the Western Rural, where relatives could register their loved ones feared to be missing in the disaster.

As registration work is still ongoing at the center, the number of people missing is feared to rise further.

At the centre, wailing family members are clustered to get the names of their relatives registered in the government data.

In total, four excavators are deployed at the disaster site, but only three are in operation while rescue officers including the Sierra Leone Red Cross, the military, the police and other youth volunteers are helping to remove more bodies from the debris.

Although the Commander of the Joint Forces of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces, General B. Sesay could not grant an interview at the site, observations are that the rescue team is not well equipped to carry out the rescue operation.

According to one of the excavator operators, Mohamed Sillah, an employee of the Gento Group of Companies, it would be difficult to get everybody out from the debris "because the boulders are so heavy that the machines cannot easily lift them".

He estimated that the operation could last for a week but expressed fear that buried bodies could have been decomposed by then.


"I was assisting one of my neighbours whose house was flooded while it was raining. I narrowly escaped when I experienced an earth quake-like trembling. I quickly ran away when I saw something like a smoke from the mountain," said Samuel Fofanah, one of the survivors in the disaster.

He continued that he lost his entire family. He sustained minor injury on one of his legs and he is currently at the response centre at Regent where he is being provided with medical and psychosocial treatment.

At the centre, food, medicine, clothing and other facilities are being provided by the government, individuals and humanitarian organizations for traumatized relatives.

Also, the Environmental and Santitation Officer of the Freetown City Council, Sulaiman Zainu Parker, said the government would start burying corpses although he could not indicate the actual date.