According to Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma, at least 600 people are still missing after a mudslide and floods destroyed parts of the country’s capital, Freetown, on Monday.
Koroma has pleaded for “urgent support” as the Red Cross and other first responders rush to find survivors.
“The entire community is now in mourning. Loved ones are still missing, well over 600 people,” stated Koroma, adding that 400 people have been confirmed dead. Many communities were completely wiped out by the disaster.
The devastation is completely “overwhelming” the country continued Koroma. He has also advised people to stay away from the affected areas.
Sierra Leone is no stranger to flooding. Heavy rains often hit Freetown, a city of more than one million people. Makeshift housing in the city can easily be swept away by the deluge.
Nonetheless, Monday’s mudslide was one of the worst the country has ever seen.
Following heavy rain early in the morning, a part of Sugar Loaf Mountain collapsed, causing disaster to strike. Water and mud soon overtook the hilltop community of Regent, where many residents were asleep in bed.
Though bodies are still being recovered from the mud and rubble, said Presidential spokesman Abdulai Baraytay, a mass burial of victims has been planned for Wednesday to free up space in mortuaries.
Responding to Koroma’s plea for support, the UN has sent rescue teams to the country.
“Contingency plans are being put in place to mitigate any potential outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhea,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Despite this terrible tragedy, Koroma has urged Sierra Leoneans to unify during this time of loss and mourning.
“This tragedy of great magnitude has once again challenged us to come together, to stand by each other and to help one another,” he said.
Featured image via Wikipedia