SAU Buzz

Sierra Leone devastated by tragedy

by Mary Roche
Posted on Sep 06, 2017

A mountain of mud ravaged Sierra Leone’s capital on August 14. Rescue efforts are still in full force; pushing through dangerous rain that could cause more tragedy. Surrounding areas are quickly evacuating, hoping to evade further calamity.

More than 1,000 people have died because of the disaster in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The death toll is expected to rise, as hundreds of people are still unaccounted for. It’s estimated that at least 9,000 people have been affected by the mudslide.

Most impoverished communities are located at sea level and do not have proper drainage systems or safe housing. National Public Radio was told that unregulated construction takes place on the mountain as well, which may have led to more death and injury.

Freetown was flooded along with the mudslide and not everyone was able to make it out.

"We were inside. We heard the mudslide approaching. We were trying to flee. I attempted to grab my baby but the mud was too fast. She was covered, alive," Adama, Freetown citizen, told the BBC. "I have not seen my husband, Alhaji. My baby was just seven weeks old."

A morgue doctor told a BBC journalist that this mudslide is even worse than the outbreak of Ebola in 2014. Family members packed the area outside the morgue to identify family members. The hospital also was unable to keep up with mudslide victims.

Mass funerals are taking place and still being planned. Authorities have been encouraging citizens to stop by the morgues and identify family members if possible, as many people are still marked as unaccounted for.

Sia Koroma, first lady and wife of President Ernest Bai Koroma, expressed her sympathies for the people of Freetown and other affected communities.

“I stand here with a heavy heart. We have been through many calamities in our country. We should all do self-examination and learn to be obedient to man-made laws, especially when the government plans to take action for the development of the country,” she said.

According to Al Jazeera national network, much of the blame has been placed on the government because Sierra Leone has dealt with many preventable tragedies in the past.

"Who should we really blame?” Reverend Bishop Emeritus Arnold Temple said in a sermon. “We are bound at a point in the blame game to attribute the blame so that corrective measures can be put in place so that never again should we allow this to happen.”

Bodies from the disaster have even washed up on the shores of Guinea, north of Sierra Leone leaving identification and retrieval of the dead an even larger mess than before.

Landslides have also occurred in Conakry and eastern Congo, causing problems in Niger. This is all on top of consistent flooding in Niger, which has killed 43 people since June alone, according to Reuters. Intense flooding is also affecting Southeast Asia. Nepal, Bangladesh, and India have all experienced record monsoon floods, which have killed over 1,200 and displaced millions. Along with the intense loss of life, families are left in disrepair by the loss of crops and livestocks that provided their livelihood.

To help with these natural disasters, well-wishers can donate to The Red Cross and UNICEF through their respective websites.