16 August 2017

Sierra Leone Declares Seven-Day Mourning After Mudslide Tragedy

Photo: AMAMedia/Al Jazeera
On August 14, a mudslide killed more than 400 people in the mountain town of Regent on the outskirts of Sierra Leone‘s capital Freetown, sweeping away homes and leaving residents desperate for news of missing family members.

Sierra Leone's government has declared seven days of mourning for victims of Monday's deadly flooding and mudslide tragedy.

The country's national flag will fly at half-mast from today to Tuesday (Aug 16 - 22), the government said in a statement in which it also called for a minute of silence at midday on Wednesday in honour of the 300 people who died in the capital Freetown.

According to government figures, the death toll stands at 297 and includes 109 children, 83 women and 105 men. Information deputy minister Cornelius Deveaux said the figure is based on a body count at the city's main morgue at Connaught hospital.

Aid agencies, assisting in search and rescue operations, put the death toll at over 300.

More than 500 people are still missing with thousands others left homeless after their houses were destroyed.

About 150 people were buried on Tuesday evening with government planning a mass burial on Thursday for those who will not have been identified and claimed by their families.

A prayer vigil at the National Stadium in Freetown will precede the burial.

President Ernest Bai Koroma with his Guinean counterpart Alpha Conde Tuesday visited Regent, the worst-hit area.

Part of Mount Sugar Loaf, where Regent is located, collapsed Monday following torrential rains, submerging houses and sweeping away others, many of which were makeshift settlements.

The two leaders also visited the morgue at Connaught hospital which has been overwhelmed by bodies.

President Conde was in the country in show of solidarity with the Sierra Leoneans following one of the worst natural disaster to hit the capital.

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