http://www.polity.org.za
Deepening Democracy through Access to Information
Home / News / All News RSS ← Back
Construction|Freetown|Waterloo|Concern Worldwide|Health|Sanitation|Systems|Water|Sierra Leone|Equipment|Food|Heavy Machinery|Poor Drainage Systems|Sanitation Equipment|Systems|Sierra Leone|Adele Fox|Ahmed Idris|Hawa Stevens|Matu Katta|Mother|Sayo Jalloh
Construction||Health|Sanitation|Systems|Water||Equipment|Systems||
construction|freetown|waterloo|concern-worldwide|health|sanitation|systems-company|water|sierra-leone|equipment|food|heavy-machinery|poor-drainage-systems|sanitation-equipment|systems|sierra-leone-natural-feature|adele-fox|ahmed-idris|hawa-stevens|matu-katta|mother|sayo-jalloh
Close

Email this article

separate emails by commas, maximum limit of 4 addresses

Verification Image. Please refresh the page if you cannot see this image.

Sponsored by

Close

Article Enquiry

Sierra Leone mudslide survivors describe shock, anger

Verification Image. Please refresh the page if you cannot see this image.
Close

Embed Video

Sierra Leone mudslide survivors describe shock, anger

Photo by Reuters

17th August 2017

By: News24Wire

SAVE THIS ARTICLE      EMAIL THIS ARTICLE

Font size: -+

Three days after flooding and a mudslide that killed at least 400 people in Sierra Leone, survivors are full of shock and anger as they take on the daunting task of identifying and burying their loved ones.

Hundreds queued on Wednesday after the government summoned families to the morgue in the capital Freetown and said all unidentified bodies would be buried on Thursday and Friday amid fears of disease outbreaks from the corpses that have laid open in the heat.

Advertisement

The first mass burial is expected to begin at 3pm local time (15:00 GMT) on Thursday in the nearby town of Waterloo.

More than 100 of those who died are children as devastating mudslides struck before dawn on Monday after heavy rain.

Advertisement

On Wednesday, the Red Cross estimated that at least 600 others remained missing following the storm that struck as many of the victims were sleeping.

"We were fast asleep when we heard the roaring sounds [of the mudslide] approaching," 16-year-old Matu Katta told Al Jazeera.

"I went up the house to check. That was the last time I saw my family. The mud took everyone away except me and my aunt."

Mattu is one of only two survivors of her family of 19.

Another survivor, Hawa Stevens, spoke through tears as she talked about the 28 family members she lost in the mudslides.

"Mother, father, sisters, brothers, cousins all gone," Stevens told The Associated Press.

"My life has been shattered ... Please God help."

She later said she was only able to identify two members of her family.

Hawa Sillah described a similar scene, saying she and her sister were the only ones from her family to escape the floods.

"When the floods arrived, our house broke. The blocks fell on me. Fourteen of my relatives died but I escaped with my sister," she told The Associated Press.

"My husband and my child ... I don't know where they are. Even my sister, they said she is dead."

'Time is running out fast'

Rescue workers continued on Thursday to dig out bodies from the mud and debris that came roaring down the hillsides onto the impoverished, low-lying areas of Freetown and the surrounding areas.

Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris, reporting from Matome, said heavy machinery has been brought in to remove rocks and bricks in hopes of recovering bodies.

"Time is running out fast," he said.

"The work has been further complicated by the weather and shortage of manpower."

The government has pleaded for international assistance as it reels from the disaster.

With rain forecast for at least the coming week, the threat of further mudslides around Freetown remained.

Many areas of the capital are near sea level and have poor drainage systems, which makes flooding worse during the rainy season.

'No house, no food, no clothes'

Thousands, including Sayo Jalloh, lost their homes.

"I heard heavy rain all night and at around 5:30am, I felt the ground shaking," Jalloh, who lost 17 family members including her son, said.

"I told everyone to get out of the house and we stood next to our neighbour's house ... within a second I saw these multi-storey houses coming down the hill.

"Even as I stand here now, I do not have a place to sleep. We have no food, no clothes, nothing at all. I have a large family at my hand and my husband is getting old."

Adele Fox, national health coordinator for Sierra Leone at the charity Concern Worldwide, said the search for bodies continued but the survivors were facing difficult conditions.

"There is basic need for food, water, sanitation equipment and medical assistance. Since it is still the rainy season, further flooding is also a possibility," she said on Wednesday.

The prevailing sentiment among those in the disaster areas had shifted from shock and grief to anger at what is an annual problem in Freetown, she said, though never before on this scale.

Many have questioned why the government has not done more to tackle illegal construction of the overcrowded capital, which has been blamed for the scale of the destruction.
 

EMAIL THIS ARTICLE      SAVE THIS ARTICLE

To subscribe email subscriptions@creamermedia.co.za or click here
To advertise email advertising@creamermedia.co.za or click here

Comment Guidelines

About

Polity.org.za is a product of Creamer Media.
www.creamermedia.co.za

Other Creamer Media Products include:
Engineering News
Mining Weekly
Research Channel Africa

Read more

Subscriptions

We offer a variety of subscriptions to our Magazine, Website, PDF Reports and our photo library.

Subscriptions are available via the Creamer Media Store.

View store

Advertise

Advertising on Polity.org.za is an effective way to build and consolidate a company's profile among clients and prospective clients. Email advertising@creamermedia.co.za

View options
Free daily email newsletter Register Now